Letters from Me, Day 10: Kaela Altman, Chicago, IL

Dear Kaela,

What is there to say that I haven't already said, my Kaela?

My friend, my confidante, my show tunes belter, my harmonizer, my soul sister, my reality checker, my zen-maker, my red eye flight taker, my scheme-partner, my gem creator...I want to tell you so many things.

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I want to tell you how incredibly, unbelievably proud I am of you.

I'm proud to know you and I'm proud to have been by your side (figuratively for many of the years we've known each other) through so many transitions, life-changing moments and big accomplishments. I am proud that you've gotten yourself to where you are today. You've been a joy to those around you along the way, no matter how trying or stressful the situation. I am proud that you've pushed for so many great things. You've been lucky in some respects (we both have), but on the whole, you've made your luck. You've earned every wonderful thing that's happened to you, and you've stuck it out through every hard thing that has happened, just the same. 

I want to tell you that I admire you.

I admire your strength of character and of your willpower. You have created change in your life with the sheer persistence of your brain and heart, and that is so awesome to me. I admire the heights you've soared to professionally. Sometimes, in a tough situation at work, I think to myself, "WWKD?" (What would Kaela do?) And then I know I must keep my head up high, speak only what needs to be spoken, walk with dignity and grace and know that it will all get worked out in the end. I will work it out in the end. Because that's what you do. And I want to be like you.

I admire your dedication to your work away from work - your volunteer position that has taken you leaping and bounding to big and wonderful places. Last fall, I had the pleasure of joining you for dinner and a night of theater. You were putting on a production of Parade, and I felt truly honored to be a part of that audience that night. Not only was the show itself phenomenal, but you introduced the night's program with such poise and confidence, it was like I was watching someone famous, someone grown up, someone truly important. And I realized something suddenly in my brain that my heart had known for a long while - you are all of those things and more.

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I want to tell you you're beautiful.

I know it's tough sometimes to remember how beautiful you are when the world makes you tired and sad and frustrated. But you have always been able to rise above, to shine through the darkness that people surround themselves with, to glow brightly and make the space around you a more welcoming, more lovely, more peaceful place. This comes from your inner beauty, surely, but also your outer beauty. You take care in your appearance, your almond shaped eyes with lush lashes, your perfect pink cheeks, your incredible curls. You have been enhancing your beauty with the friends you keep, the workout regimen you've been sticking to, the clothes you wear and the amazing man you've had by your side for all these years, too.

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And lastly, I want to tell you how happy I am for you.

This year, 2015, we will gather in upstate NY, where we all grew up and made memories and laughed and played and learned and cried and danced, and we will see you marry that amazing man. The man who wooed you in Fredonia, who made the move to Chicago with you, who has cared for you and whom you have cared for, who lights up your face like none other. You make a promise to each other this fall that is pretty much the biggest promise you can make to anyone. And I know he is worth it. And boy, golly, so are you. I am so happy you're happy, that this day 7 months from now is giving you new reasons to work hard, to be strong, to be graceful, to by joyful. 

Photo credit: Joe Grant Photography

Photo credit: Joe Grant Photography

Kaela, you have been so many things to me for so many years, and I could write 750,000 words to you, telling you all the things I want to. But for today, I leave you with this.

I am lucky to have you in my life and I know no matter where the world takes us, or who we become, we will always be friends. 

Love,

Amanda