“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”
– Henry Ford
On this day, six years ago, I met a girl who changed my life forever – my best friend, Harper Rose Kerr. Like most friendships, we have had our ups and downs, but they are moments that allowed us to grow and develop into the people we are today – moments that we would never trade for anything in the world. She is the first one I call when I am happy, sad, angry, confused, excited, bored, lonely, overwhelmed, and every emotion in between. Over time, she has become more like my sister. We have shared experiences that we will never forget, but there’s a catch – we have lived 900 miles apart the majority of our friendship.
Our story is like no other, and it has a special meaning to both of us. So here is my side of our unique story. A story of friendship, love, gratitude, forgiveness, and hope – the story of me and my favorite person, my best friend.
I met Harper on June 5, 2008 at a church camp in Alabama. She was from Valrico, Florida a suburb in Tampa and attended The Crossing Church. My former youth pastors had recently moved to Tampa to work at The Crossing and were now her youth pastors. Call it what you want, but I’d like to think it was fate. There is no other way, under no circumstances, at no other time that I would have ever met Harper. It was meant to be that two individuals from two different states would build a connection that would last a lifetime.
Two weeks. We had known each other for two weeks, but we knew we had found something special and we were determined to maintain a friendship with four states in between us. Unsure of the next time we would see each other, we promise to be best friends “forever.” We didn’t talk everyday, but when we did it was like we were next door neighbors. We were able to share our experiences with each other in a way I had never been able to do with anyone else.
It was winter break 2008 and I had been planning a trip to Tampa for almost two months and it was put on hold because my former youth pastor’s wife was not able to drive back to Florida due to a family emergency. I called Harper in a panic. My mom, who had never met Harper, talked to her mom and they agreed that I could get on a flight and stay with them. It was a special week. I spent New Year’s with my best friend and made memories that we still talk about today.
2009 was monumental for our friendship. I spent several weekends in Tampa and in April, Harper and two other Florida friends came to Charleston, West Virginia for their spring break. That summer, we went to Daytona for a week and that would be the last time I would see Harper for almost two years. A lot happened, in both of our lives, during those couple years. We experienced high school, heartbreak, and new friendships but stuck together through it all. It’s still hard to believe that our friendship survived such challenging years.
2010 went by and our only communication was done via texting, facebook, skype, and facetime. But in 2011, that would all change. After spending my spring break in Orlando, about two hours north of Tampa, I realized how much I truly missed Harper. I made plans to visit for two weeks at the beginning of June. At the end of the two weeks, I was not even close to ready to leave behind my favorite people, favorite city, favorite part of life. Before boarding the plane, I booked a flight to visit for another two weeks in July. This summer was vital for our friendship. I pinpoint this summer as the time we realized what being a best friend was all about. We grew closer than we had ever been before and this made saying goodbye a nightmare. I had decided that summer that I would move to Florida after graduation and put an end to the long-distance life we had been living.
Senior year flew by and of course, Harper was in town to spend my graduation weekend with me in May of 2012. A month afterwards, I packed up my life and moved to Florida for the summer. We had never experienced life together, everyday, for an entire summer and it was the best summer of our lives. We had the opportunity to support each other through everything and be side-by-side the whole time. We were practically inseparable, as best friends typically are. For us, that summer, life was as it should be – life was normal.
I moved back to West Virginia for the last four months of the year and was preparing to move to Charleston, South Carolina where I would attend school in January 2013. That’s when things were rough. Harper and I lost touch for about 8 months during that time and it was tragic. I could barely remember life without her and did not know how to function without her by my side. After we put aside our differences, we rekindled our friendship in April of 2013 and were better than ever. I surprised her for her birthday that summer with a scavenger hunt and showed up at the very end. That was the last time I saw her, but it hasn’t changed a thing.
I have found what some people dream of – a best friend. I am overwhelmingly thankful for each and every second I have spent with her. I am truly blessed to have her in my life. It’s been a sweet six years and seven will be even better.
Today we celebrate six incredible years of friendship – of laughter and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I have found my soul sister, best friend, person, maid of honor, counselor, life coach, motivator, and everything I could ever want in a friend. Being friends with you has been nothing but an adventure and I could not imagine where I would be without you. You have taught me how to be a friend and how to truly value what life has to offer. You are my role model; I look up to your love for life and fearlessness. You take risks when you can’t see the reward. I depend on you for everything, to fight for me when I can’t fight for myself, and you never disappoint. This story doesn’t nearly include all the amazing experiences I have had with you, but it shows me that it is not the big moments in life that matter. The little moments – the times we have been watching tv, dressing up like cows to go to Chick-Fil-A, painting eggs and riding bikes, lighting sparklers, or taking underwater pictures – these moments have shown me what true friendship looks like. We are what true friendship looks like and I wouldn’t want to share these memories with anyone else. Here’s to six years of friendship, to the seventh year we are about to begin, and to the rest of our lives. I love you, H.