You know those friends and family and strangers, even, who stand by you and lend you shoulders for crying on, ears for soaking up the whinging, grace for your sour words and pathetic puffiness, and hope for your tomorrow…I have a lot of those people, no doubt. But for the sake of this one time, let me tell you bout this one gal..
At the very lowest that I’ve ever been—we’re talking down 30 pounds in 3 weeks, no eating or drinking or speaking, no caring about Christmas or spending time with my family….only sleeping or wish I was sleeping kind of low—one of those faces popped up in my inbox with an email that still gives me chills…
“Anne,” she wrote…”We love you to the moon and back.. Please use this [[referring to a Southwest giftcard]] whenever you feel the need to get away. Visit home, a friend or even us!!”
It was at that moment, that I knew without a doubt two certain things. 1) Kristen Kull knew me better than I knew myself in that moment of despair. And 2) I was going to the Kentucky Derby.
Months later, I’m greeted at the Louisville Airport by two baby ‘hair-pane’ lovin towheads and the hostess with the mostest.
As our itinerary noted; we did it all, that one time. We did Kentucky Derby better than anyone may have ever done it before us. Not because we got our nails done to match our dresses, picked out the perfect hats, went to a Jocktails party where jockeys past and present brought me bourbon after bourbon. It wasn’t the best because we sat in the Turf Club for Oaks and then did a twofer, hitting up the box seats for Derby Day, where mint juleps went down as easy as money at the betting windows. It wasn’t even the best because I danced with the man of the hour [[next time you see Mark Kull, ask him for video proof. It’s fairly epic]], saw Joey Fatone in a blinding pink coat and see-through white pants, or because I puffed my first and only cigar at Churchill Downs, for the sake of a good story.
The sun shining on what I can only describe now as a spectacle to rival the Easter Bunny marrying the Vineyard Vines Whale had me smiling, really, truly smiling the entire time.
I don’t think it was the best for any one of those reasons; rather, I think that Derby was special for what it stood for. It might have been my first peek at growth and grace, now that I think about it. It was certainly a lesson in genuine generosity; pure, permanent love; and a selfless commitment to friendship and family. It was, and will always remain, one of the most beautiful gestures I’ve ever known.
Fast forward to departure day…I’m sitting on a plane, heading off into the unknown..feeling a little scared, a little sad, a little ‘what am I doing?’ when I remembered Kristen Kull’s package that had arrived a week prior with strict instructions to ‘OPEN FROM THE HAIR-PANE ONLY.’ I pulled out another note…
My sweetest Annie,
I’ve been thinking about this moment…for several months now. I’ve been thinking and praying about what I want you to read, know and feel, but more importantly, what it is that God wants you to read, know and feel.
…I hope you always remember this moment and the moment when you get back on the plane to return home and how differently you feel. I wanted you to have something simple, yet pretty…Something to remind you of this journey every time you look at it no matter how long it’s been because after all, you will be changed – changed for the better with a clearer mind…When I found this necklace titled “Circle of Life” it seemed so fitting in so many ways. A circle for: going around the world, there’s no beginning or end…When I look at it I picture God’s arms wrapped around you for protection and comfort.
I also prayed for the perfect verse for you. As soon as I read Ezekiel 36:26 I knew it was meant for you.
“”I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.””
love where you are in every moment of every day, love God (praise Him) and above all else, love yourself.
Gifts aren’t my love language–experiences are–Kristen Kull gives me reassurance and comfort and confidence to go, do, dream–she perfectly gives experiences of a lifetime.
I’m not even sure how to end this story, except that from the depths of my soul, I wanna grow up to be a Kristen Kull and from the depths of my soul, I hope you all have a Kristen Kull to make so many #SoThisOneTimes with.