On October 27th, 1984, the world heralded the arrival of sweet Catherine Coleman Brown. A joy and delight from day one, Catherine wins everyone over she meets over with her kindness, love, and infectious laugh. I’m beyond proud to call her one of my oldest and dearest friends. She’s the type of friend who is not just a friend, but as Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy would say, she’s “your person“—the one you call at all hours of the day and night, the one who’s allowed to come over when your house is messy, and the one you can make plans with five minutes in advance.
Alas, our story was not without its complications and nearly ended before it ever began…In fifth grade, I was a mean girl. Pretty much all I cared about was being cool and popular.
So when a little fourth grader was placed in a tennis class with two of my friends, I can’t say I was thrilled. This little fourth grader didn’t even know all the words to Ace of Base’s “The Sign”, I mean really, who did she think she was?! All ten-year-old girls should know that! Eventually our exclusivity and meanness was too much for this sweet fourth grader and she quit the class.
I always felt horrible about how we treated Catherine, but never did anything to remedy the situation. And so, life moved on. She lived in her grade and I lived in mine.
Until, as luck would have it the grades began to intermingle in middle school. All of a sudden, we were talking more, playing sports together, in the same study hall, and going on youth group trips together…Somehow this rift that began years ago on the tennis court was no longer. She freely and graciously gave me a second chance.
It was a few years before we were able to joke about our tennis days (I guess I was hoping she had forgotten), but I have to tell you, only a girl like Catherine would give me another try. If it were me, I probably would have cut me out long before our friendship ever began, but Catherine is different—she’s forgiving, compassionate, and incredibly serving.
I mean, not just anyone would sign-in to Instant Messenger for me when my internet wasn’t working and talk to my crush online, while I dictated what to say over the phone. I’m not sure what she said, but he asked me to go to the movies when Catherine was doing the typing, job well done! If that’s not true friendship, I don’t know what is!
And so sweet birthday girl, on your golden birthday, I want to say thank you—for second chances, for being a friend who loves at all times, and for being a friend who is a constant source of encouragement, inspiration, and strength. You, my precious friend, are my hero. Each day, you blow me away with your strength, faithfulness, servant’s heart, and hilarity. Happy, happy birthday!!