But as I waited for Fr. John to be free, I could tell we were being watched. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a couple that wasn't talking to anyone, but they also weren't leaving. Not sure what to do, we kept waiting. A full head of curly brown hair just popped over and hesitantly spoke. "Are you guys new?"
The excitement on their faces when they learned we were new, recently married, and had a toddler was a relief for us - it's a little daunting starting over in a new place without any friends, especially good Catholic ones and we were just as excited to meet them as they were us. It didn't freak us out in the slightest to have them creeping behind us and being so bold. Probably because we're just as creepy and have stalked a few people in our younger days, too. (Remember when we stalked you, McGraws, after mass at Epiphany and then again at the Sweet Corn Blues Festival and you introduced us to the Gesterlings, who introduced us to the Herrs, who introduced us to Bonnie... and so the story goes? Good things happen when you stalk people... well, holy people.)
We never did get to talk to Fr. John that day. But it doesn't really matter.
Because Kaitlin and Ted (and eventually sweet baby Hannah) became close, close friends of ours. They challenged us, supported us, laughed with us, and cried with us. Their friendship has been one of the greatest blessings we've received while living in Starkville and we will miss them deeply. Ted's new job in Tallahassee starts in two days and as I type, they are caravanning to their new home.
It still seems surreal to me, though. I'm not sad yet - I wasn't even sad when we ended the night last night playing Bohnanza over an enormous bowl of heavily salted popcorn. Maybe it's because I'm in denial, or maybe it's because they'll never really be that far from us. I'll always remember them this way, and it makes me happy, not sad:
So, Kaitlin and Ted, we wish you well.
May God continue to fill your lives with joy and happiness,
and may He bless you with amazing friends in Tallahassee,
as you have been to us, here in Starkville.
Just stay after mass this Sunday. I'm sure something will work out, you big stalkers.