It’s amazing how God brings people to us in the season we need them most, even when we may not realize it until later.

I remember when Katie first started working with me. She doesn’t know this, but I just assumed I didn’t like her. (I’m sure she’s laughing right now, because she knows my terrible habit of disliking literally everyone before I even meet them.) I wanted nothing to do with her, actually. So, I said very little to her in the beginning. I regret that so much now, because I think of all the crazy adventures we missed out on due to my stubbornness. Our boss probably misses those days of me hiding out in my office, “working,” though, since Katie and I have become virtually inseparable now.

I have always imagined life as a puzzle. The people we meet, the moments we share, all coming together to form a beautiful picture. One of Katie’s favorite hobbies is doing jigsaw puzzles so it seems fitting to write about her with this analogy.

Katie has become a key piece to my puzzle. Over the last year or so, a lot of my pieces have fallen apart. I’ve lost many pieces: some by choice, some by cancer, and some by geography. Losing these pieces changed my picture. I forgot how lively, fun, and beautiful the picture could be with the right pieces.

In those early days, I assumed Katie’s piece didn’t fit with mine. Boy, was I ever wrong. You see, Katie’s piece is actually the connector to so many of my life’s puzzle pieces.  Her piece brought loyalty, joy, support, silliness, and encouragement back into my life. Once I let our pieces connect, it was like a domino effect. All of these good and lovely feelings came flooding into my life. I was reminded about what it truly means to have a friend in this crazy life.

First, Katie’s piece reconnected my own puzzle with loyalty. She is an incredibly reliable, faithful friend. I know I can count on her, no matter how big or small my obstacle may be. If I need someone to vent to and eat ice cream with, she’s there. No questions asked, even if she’s had a long day. If I need someone to drink too many margaritas with on a Tuesday night, she’s my girl. No judgement, even if she’d rather be in bed.  Katie is the friend that will volunteer to a six hour road trip to help you take care of your niece and nephew on a Thursday night. No complaints, just a willingness to help.

I’ve encountered a lot of people whose loyalty pieces only jammed together with excessive force. They might say “Let me know if you need anything” or “I’m here if you need me,” but they never just showed up. Katie always shows up first, then asks how she can make my life easier. Sometimes she doesn’t even ask, she just jumps in and starts making my life better. I’m not sure if I will ever find someone who has such a natural sense of loyalty. I’m forever thankful for the lessons of faithfulness in friendship that she has shown me.

If there is ever a Red Rover tournament, I know I want to lock arms with Katie because I’m not sure the biggest, toughest man in the world could break through the support her friendship builds. Seriously, Katie’s piece of the puzzle has such a strong, supportive core. If you know me, I like to say that I follow the motto, “Go big or go home.” I can’t do anything halfway or small in nature. It has to be bigger and better than anything I’ve ever done. Unfortunately, my oldest sister got all of the artistic genes in my family. So, while I can envision epic ideas, I can never turn them into a reality. Katie has this ability to understand the craziness of my thoughts and turn them into exactly what I envisioned. Last fall, our boss let me create a game for our annual volunteer banquet. She suggested something basic like BINGO or trivia about our workplace. But I imagined a giant game board, tied into the theme of the banquet and combining elements of many of my favorite childhood board games. I explained it all to Katie and then she produced this amazing, giant game board. And, being supportive, she stayed and facilitated my game when I had a basketball game on the night of the banquet. Then, there was the day last winter when I looked at her and said, “I think we should do a 5k fundraiser.” She got that “bring it on” look on her face, and we immediately started planning. It was an amazing, successful event, and she put so much work into pulling it off. It was my wild idea at the start, but with my busy schedule away from work, Katie picked up the slack and never complained about doing the majority of the prep work. The fundraiser never would have had a finish without her support in the middle. Katie has this determination that inspires people around her. When I give birth to these insane ideas, I get tired about halfway through. I want to give up, and I get discouraged. But Katie comes alongside me and encourages me to the finish. She leads by example rather than words. Katie truly is a woman of action, and I am forever thankful for her leadership in my life.

While I will always be thankful for the loyalty and support Katie has brought into my life, I think I am most thankful for her childlike heart. (I promise, I mean this in a really good way!) She is always, always down for one of my silly adventures. Whether it’s impromptu balloon darts or three-legged races, staff egg races or water balloon fights, or rounds of Guess Who or games of Scrabble at Dairy Queen, Katie is always ready to feed my love of fun.

She always gets behind my love of silly holidays, birthday celebrations, and Taco Tuesdays. She tells me often that she loves my laugh, but the truth is, I love that someone has brought so much joy back into my life so that I can laugh freely again. It has been a long time since I have chosen happiness, and I have no doubt Katie is the source of my choice. 

Katie will always be “my person.” I am a dark and twisty person by nature, and while Katie can be, too, she is mostly light. We tease her at work that, despite being in our presence for a year, she still has some hope and goodness inside of her. We couldn’t quite bring her over to the dark side. Joking aside, I am glad Katie is like the light at the end of a long tunnel. When she showed up down the hall from my office a year ago, I had no idea how much light she would bring me.

While I am sad that the light in her office will be turned off, I am so excited for what lies ahead. I know Katie has amazing things awaiting her. Because of who she is, she will accomplish greatness. Her loyalty, support, and light will make the puzzle a bit clearer for someone else.

I am also excited to see what pieces we will continue to connect together. I know our story is only beginning, and based on the pieces we’ve put together so far, only good things lie ahead. I have no idea what our pictures may look like, but I know, together, we will make them beautiful.

Katie, thank you for being the best work bestie I could have ever asked for. I’ll miss spending my work days with you, but I look forward to spending a lifetime as your friend!