by Ellen in , ,

Here's another St. Mary's friend that I've known my whole life! Kaitlin and I have known each other since we were 4. She's another one of those girls (like Shelby, Martha, and Elise) who I will always know because we've always known each other. While we may go months or even years without talking because we live completely different lives or live far away from each other, I will always consider the girls I went to St. Mary's with my friends. How could I not when we share all the same memories from our most important years? All 61 (plus or minus, depending on how many girls we gained or lost over the years) of these women are unique and wonderful. Whether they're setting the world on fire with brains and gumption or starting their lives with their significant others and brand new babies or whether they just like making photographs, our teachers at St. Mary's were right: we are ALL gifted to change the world in some way. Now as an adult, I believe that. Mainly because I see it. I am a lucky girl to be able to say I have friends who are amongst the most brilliant writers, beloved teachers, INCREDIBLE actresses, selfless doctors, gifted artists, sharp lawyers, astounding musicians, beautiful mothers, fierce social workers, astute theologians, and the list goes on and on and on. We all have our "thing" we do. And each of us is different than the next, but I guarantee one of the best at what we do. I love St. Mary's, mainly because of the community and relationships that exist there. To use a very St. Mary's analogy, it's a petri dish where encouragement, tough love, and deep friendships grow exponentially over time. It's hard to explain, but we have shaped each other inside the dish and outside the dish.

As I am watching some of the girls I work with in the Episcopal youth community wrap up their last few days at St. Mary's, I'm reminded of so many good things, but I am excited for what they will discover about each other and themselves over the next years of their lives. Even these last two weeks are essential to know just how important all those late nights of studying, crying over a B+, and playing on the same team really are. Because at the end of all those small moments, you have those friends who are like sisters. Who let you spend the night at their house for 3 days because you don't want to sleep alone in your own bed because The Ring was "the scariest movie you ever saw." Who give you an unspoken invitation to all their family functions because you're an unspoken member of their family. Who rearrange their busy lives to celebrate your accomplishments, big or small. I am blessed beyond imagination to have friends like this. They have taught me about serving others and being served. I cannot fathom what my life would look like without them, and I don't think I even want to try.

Anyway, after my long SMS spiel, here are Kaitlin and Ben! A fun factoid about them: they have known each other since middle school, were not each other's biggest fans in high school, but became friends and fell in love. Also: Ben's older sister Allyn grew up with my sister Claire at St. Mary's, so I have known both of these families for a VERY long time. Small small small and surprising world. Also, Kaitlin is about to be a doctor. And Ben is an awesome Army man. They are so fun and easy going together, it is very sweet.