Long-term relationships of almost any kind can be tricky. People grow apart. They change. Sometimes, you look up and find a girlfriend who used to feel like a sister feeling more like an associate.
In other cases, no amount of time, distance or space can threaten the bond you have with someone. I’m blessed to have experienced the latter with my good friend Nicole Mitchell. We’ve been friends since high school, and I’ve learned she’s just the kind of person who knows how to keep close those she cares about.
She calls. She plans. She texts.
She shows up, time and time again.
Nicole not only attended my wedding, she and her parents were right there dancing with me at my aunt’s wedding. They came to my grandfather’s funeral and to every graduation function, baby shower and birthday celebration I’ve had since knowing them.
The Mitchells show up for those they love. That’s just how they do things, and Nicole saw that first hand with her parents.
She wrote in a letter of appreciation to them:
“Thank you for throwing me the party of my dreams. Thank you for letting me live in your house rent-free for 27 years. Thank you for being a parent, advisor and chef to all of my friends. Thank you for doing my taxes, so I won’t go to jail for tax evasion. (I’ll set up time to learn how to do them this year.)
Thank you for letting me host countless parties, BBQs and meetings at your house with little to no warning. Thank you for making spaghetti and fried fish at my sleepovers. Thank you for offering to take me to the grocery store. Thank you for those super fun road trips. Thank you for paying for private ice-skating lessons when you knew I was no good, likewise with piano. Thank you for exposing me to countless hours of culture, including museums, books, aquariums, etc…
Thank you for letting me study abroad in Italy when there were other things that needed to be paid for. Thank you for finding a way to give me everything I’ve always wanted. Thank you for loving and accepting my husband, John W. Butler, III as your own.”
Like I said, the Mitchells show up, and Nicole is a Mitchell through and through.
So when she decided to marry her college sweetheart, I knew I would be witnessing the start of a successful marriage, not just a beautiful wedding.
That inspires a different kind of joy, and Nicole and John had a different kind of celebration. They addressed the legalities at City Hall and followed with a big party.
“It’s not a wedding,” Nicole’s said more times than I can count. “It’s a celebration.”
And celebrate we did.
We celebrated love.
We celebrated friendship, and we celebrated the act of showing up time and time again.
We celebrated marriage.