Last night I had to say goodbye to a great friend. Thankfully, with today’s technology, “goodbyes” aren’t quite what they used to be. She’ll only be a phone call away, plus we’ve also got email, facebook, google chat, texting, and every other way of connecting virtually. AND, she’s moving to a city that I’ll have to visit frequently: Atlanta. MTW (our missions organization) is based there, so we will have to be going through there a good bit over the next few years. And she has so many connections in Jackson that she’ll certainly be back.
Can you tell I’m doing everything possible to convince myself that this really isn’t a big deal?
Emily Craft and I have been friends for 7 years. I met her through Nate when we were dating. He was at MTSU and I was at MSU, so we traveled back and forth to see each other. Emily was the RUF intern at MTSU, and since Nate was involved in RUF, alot of his friends were from that crowd. Even though I wasn’t up in Murfreesboro nearly as much as he was down in Starkville, I began to form friendships with some of the girls in that group.
The first night I met Emily, Nate had signed up to volunteer at a soup kitchen/homeless shelter. Since I happened to be in town, I went with him. Emily showed up in her old beat up car, wearing overalls and her hair all pulled up, with a huge amount of food for everyone. She had barely started her new job as the RUF intern, so she and Nate had only met a couple of times. He introduced us, and I helped her put out the food while making random introductory small-talk. I thought, “she seems nice,” and kept right on working. When the group of people who were living at the shelter came in for dinner, I went from thinking “she seems nice” to thinking “that girl is awesome.” Emily greeted every one of those people like they were her best friend. She was so warm and inviting, and she didn’t hesitate one bit in striking up conversations about who-knows-what. She grabbed herself a plate and sat down with them to eat, getting to know more about everyone seated around her. When she left, she seemed more like their buddy than a volunteer. I was impressed, and I remember telling Nate in the car afterward that I wanted to hang out with her again in the future.
I remember several random times that we hung out in groups over the next 6 months or so when I was in town… football games, random dinners at people’s apartments, lunch after church on Sundays. But it wasn’t until I transferred to MTSU in January of 2004 that we became good friends. She was one of the first girls to really reach out to me and get to know me as someone other than “Nate’s girlfriend.” (that was probably because she was the RUF intern and I was a student, but still…) It wasn’t long until I considered her one of my best friends in Murfreesboro. And since Nate and I got married that summer, they became good friends too.
Over the next year or two, Emily and I spent lots of time hanging out, eating lunch, studying the Bible, talking on the phone, and doing everything else girlfriends do…sometimes in groups, sometimes just the two of us. She was always there for me whether I needed a laugh or a serious discussion. When Nate and I started making preparations to move back to Jackson in August of 2005, Emily was one of those people that I knew I was going to have a hard time leaving. Since her internship was almost over, I told her she should get a job in Jackson and come with us. She thought I was joking.
Not long after Nate and I moved, I heard that a position was going to be opening for a female youth director at the church I grew up in, so I started telling everyone at that church that I had the perfect person for them to hire. I pretty much harassed everyone until they agreed to interview her! Long story short, she signed on to work with my “home” church, and she moved to Jackson in May of 2006, about 9 months after we did.
Emily ended up living with my parents and little sister while she was going to RTS and working for the church. I loved the fact that she basically became one of the family – all of our functions, dinners, get-togethers, etc included her. She just became one of the sisters, and it just felt like she fit! It would be strange to think of what the last several years would have been like if she hadn’t been part of the family…. it feels like she was just a natural part of it, and there would have been something missing if she hadn’t been here.
She’s lived with several other families in the past, and I’m pretty sure every single one feels the exact same way…..so I know it has nothing to do with me and my family, but rather with the fact that Emily just fits in wherever she goes. Everybody always loves her and is drawn to her, and you can’t help but feel comfortable with her.
That’s one reason I know she’ll be fine in Atlanta. I have no doubt that she’ll have 100 friends within the first week, and when it’s time for her to move on from there, she’ll have lots of people writing blog posts about how much they are going to miss her when she’s gone (: I can’t say that I’m not extremely jealous of all of her new friends though. They have no idea how much their lives are about to be blessed!
The good news is that she’ll be back before too long to meet my two boys, because they just can’t go too long without getting to know their Emmy. But no matter how much we’re able to go back and forth to visit each other….it just won’t be the same. I’m going to miss you, Emily!