I’d like to share a story, that leads to another story, that leads to a love letter. Bear with me - I promise this goes somewhere.

I have a group text thread with some of my girlfriends, and last month someone shared a quote. It was prefaced with a disclaimer about how cheesy it was, but it rang so true. It read “A friendship is it’s own love story.” It went on to talk about the beauty of that concept and that often friendships outlast romantic relationships; that friends are the ones who sit with you in the quiet of the night, when your stomach aches and your heart hurts; that friendships are some of the most complicated, significant and fulfilling love stories.

“A friendship is it’s own love story.”

It struck me at the time, but it’s taken on new life in the last weeks - with gratitude for my own friends and in honor of all of you as I consider your friendship love stories. You all have your own complicated, significant, fulfilling histories with Justin. They are rich and deep, had highs and lows, and made him who he was. Thank you for your stories.

Here’s part of my love story:

Justin and I had been dating, and I had a work trip planned. We were in the butterfly phase, and it was hard to imagine being away from each other for weeks. Before I left, he told me, this isn’t a proposal, but I need you to know now that I have to marry you. He asked me to take time while I was away and write down my desires and dreams for our life together, to go big and not hold anything back.

So I wrote him this letter:

My love…

I have to admit, I’m naturally a little afraid to write down my hopes and dreams for anything, especially marriage. I’ve been afraid to dream because I didn’t want to get my hopes up and I have been so disappointed in the past.

Falling in love with you has changed that for me…

You have been the best surprise. Who you are and how you have loved me is beyond my wildest expectations. It feels so safe to dream with you…because my dreams with you come true. They already have. so here it goes…

To start, you need to know some things I love about you.

I love your heart… you see people for who they really are. You cling to compassion and acceptance, but you believe in justice and the ability to grow and change.

I love your mind… I love how futuristic you are. You see the big picture and pride yourself in learning and gaining. You are an intellectual at your core but your big heart and humor keep you grounded.

Your ideas… you are innovative and strategic. You have an open mind and have challenged me to think differently.

I love your friendship… It amazes me that I can spend this much time with you, and not get sick of you. You are supportive, loyal, kind, and so freaking funny. You are the easiest to love.

You treat people well. You are quick to listen, and slow to speak. You are hesitant to judge and extend so much grace.

I love your passion… I love how you pursue your passions. I feel blessed that I am one of those things.

I love your humor… No one has ever made me laugh as hard as you have. There is a dryness, longevity, and commitment to your laugh that will always get me.

Your playful spirit… I thought you were so “cool” when I first met you...maybe a little too cool. But turns out, I have met my match in the goof department. You are never afraid to get a little weird and a little funky. I want to get silly and dance with you forever.

I love your loyalty… you are trustworthy, honest, and committed to your relationships. I love watching how you treat your friends. I know I can trust your motives always because of the intentionality and loyalty you have shown your family and mine.

I love your commitment to growth. Even the act of writing our thoughts down and setting goals for our future shows the thoughtfulness you possess. I need that and I love that about you.

We have the blessing of being not alone, we each have a partner, an advocate, a support system, and best friend. I want us to always treasure that and never take it for granted.

I want to be constantly, actively, trying to figure you out - understanding you and loving you in spite of the things I don’t understand.

I want us to continue to value people. Our family (you and me) comes first. But I want people to feel deeply loved by us.

I want us to be focused on growing emotionally and spiritually as individuals and together.

I want all conflict to help us grow in our understanding of each other.

I will always want to hug it out.

I love getting silly with you. I never want things to get too serious that we forget to laugh.

I want to surprise each other: a note, a flower, a text, a night away. I want us to always take care of each other in practical and impractical ways.

I want us to celebrate each other. I will always celebrate your accomplishments and feel a sense of pride in what you take pride in.

I love that you have strong, dynamic friendships. I hope you continue to surround yourself with people you trust.

I want us to be generous and gracious with our money, time, and energy. I want to hospitable and serve the people around us.

You are who I want, and who I need in hard times. I feel like we can handle anything together.

I never want us to build walls that separate us from each other. I want us to deal with things as they come. We are are a little more stubborn. I need to know that you are open to compromise and I promise I will be too.

I want to inspire you, encourage you, and affirm you. I believe in you and I can’t wait to see what’s next for you and your career.

I want to live in LA, and build our life there.

I want our home to always welcome guests. I want people to know it is a safe place for a little reprieve.

I want us to spend time with our families. I want a relationship with your parents, and I want you to have a relationship with mine.

I want lots of long drives with you.

I want to travel with you. I want to walk through Paris. I want to see Morocco. Some other places I’m thinking: Spain, Greece, Italy, Amsterdam, Germany, New Zealand, New York, DC, Boston, Ireland, Scotland.

I want to make adventures even out of the most mundane. I’m excited to get old with you. I think we will only get better as we know each other more intimately.

I want you to be able to go back to school. I want you to learn Arabic.

I want to become more politically involved, and aware of world issues. I feel like being with you has already done that for me.

I want us to always speak highly of each other. I want our love to be evident in our actions.

I want to never stop touching each other. I love holding your hand, and am so thankful it’s the one I get forever.

I love how you look at me. I could lock eyes with you all the time.

When I found this letter, my overwhelming sense was gratitude and I thought to myself We did it. We really did it.
Thank you for being a part of our story. I’m so grateful. Thank you for loving him.

I’d like to challenge you all to savor the love stories you are still building.

Please be generous with your love. Please take care of each other.

And when it’s really hard, try harder. Stay. Forgive. Please extend the grace that Justin extended.

I challenge you to take up his legacy with me.

His legacy is relationships.

I will honor his legacy for the rest of my days and I hope you all will do the same.

Thank you. Thank you for loving him.