My Caroline

I went to Mardels today. I’ve been there exactly twice. The first time was last fall when Kara’s book came out; I had bulk ordered and found my way to Mardels to pick up my copies. The lady asked me if I knew Kara. “She’s my best friend,” I replied.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. Normally a strange thing to say, but I knew what she meant.

“Don’t be—she’s headed Home!” But as I said it, the tears came.

The well meaning lady gave me an apologetic look before I hurriedly left.

Today I approached the same desk for a hold. I don’t know if it was the same lady (I’m terrible with names and faces), but she handed me the book I had called about and put on hold. “It’s for my best friend,” I explained. She thought that was nice, and I turned quickly away before she could see my tears falling.

My mamma always said you could only have one best friend—that’s what BEST meant. The best. It is a superlative. But she wouldn’t tell me that now if she knew how God has blessed me in the friend department.

Actually, Mamma knew this best friend—the one for whom I bought the book. Caroline and I go back 22 years. old caroline and meI think. I’ve lost track. We met at church as kids and then we went to college together. We were RAs together. We have soooooo many fun and hard memories together. She was there when Mamma and Daddy died. She walked me to class so I wouldn’t be alone, always by my side as I struggled to navigate social situations. She got up with me in the middle of the night to play a prank on a friend, posting flyers all over campus that we had made advertising his singleness in a most unflattering manner (sorry, Kyle…). And when she got busted, she took the blame (to this day, I don’t know that anyone knew I was the mastermind/jerk behind that). We went on retreats together, drank our first margaritas together, had silly crushes on boys together. I mourned the death of her beloved brother five years ago with her. And then she moved back into town just as I was pregnant with my first baby.

Can a simple blog post explain how much a person means to another? No way. I can’t tell you what it means that Caroline is the most faithful friend. That she is always ready to drop everything to help someone she loves. That she painstakingly created a whole baby shower Blythe 076around Golden Books down to the smallest detail just because she knew I would love it. That when Baby #2 was coming quicker than we anticipated, she was ready to stay with our son overnight. That she is the friend I trusted to do that. And when Kara died, I opened my door one night to Caroline holding bags of groceries and snacks for the children.

Thoughtful. Loyal. Fun. Don’t even get me started on how generous she is and all that she’s given us over the years. She is a talented writer and historian. We can read literature together and discuss it on deep levels. We watch tear-jerkers and cry together; we watched our favorite the other night for about the 100th time.

Caroline is a social introvert. She is the best Dutch Bingo player I’ve ever met. She is meek and gentle when engaging others; however, she can be loud and irreverent and clever and hilarious. She is my funny friend, and whenever I need a laugh, she will deliver. She texts me one-liners from “The Office” and hilariously avoids using the word “moist.” We reference Seinfeld as though it were still on the air. If I say, “She smells like soup,” she’ll laugh with me. When she gets in a mood, she is cynical, but the best kind of cynical—snarky and sarcastic. She is delightfully snarky. But also encouraging.

I can’t tell you the amount of letters she has written over the years to love and support me. She has a gift for expression and edification, and she freely uses it to bless others. I tried to do the same for her, writing a sweet note to stick in the book I got her, but it wasn’t like hers. It fell so short, just like this post.

She is kind. Humble. Loving. Gentle. Funny.

This goodbye is hard. We’ve known for a year that it might be coming—that Caroline’s husband might be getting a job out of state. And now we’ve known for a couple of months that they are indeed moving. And then this morning Caroline and I set our goodbye date for this weekend. And I haven’t stopped crying.

God gifted me with this beautiful person, and now she is leaving. This is a lot of loss for my heart to handle. Thank God Caroline is not dying, but saying goodbye to a friend of 22 years feels unbearable. I texted my other oldest BFF because I knew she would understand. And she does.

How do I end this tribute to my dear Caroline? The same way I will say goodbye—trusting that Grace will meet us, Grace upon Grace.caroline and me