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you’ve got a friend. (Rocky Mount, NC, photographer and lucky duck)

This is Erin.  A friend I worked with and lived around the corner from for three years when James was stationed at Fort Drum, New York over 10 years ago.  Erin is loyal.  Faithful.  Naive sometimes.  I love her for all of that.  When James was deployed to Iraq the first time, we had no clue what lie ahead of us.  J was a Chemical Officer – an expertise that the Army was short on at the time – and we were facing what was called a chemical threat.  The night of the first bombings, I sat on my couch and cried.  Erin called me within minutes.  She invited me over to dinner and kept an open-door policy for the entire time he was gone.  She was there to guard and defend me when working in a TV station, surrounded by  the first-ever televised war, was getting to me.  She was there for so many things.

Some time after James came back I went through some weird major depression, completely unrelated to the war or any other reasonable explanation.  I got to a point where my anxiety attacks were so frequent and debilitating that one morning I was unable to get dressed after an hour of trying.  She was there in ten minutes and she was there for me any time I needed to talk the whole thing through.  Years later when we were stationed in Washington, and James had left for Iraq a second time, she flew – across the country – to visit me.  She said it was the least she could do.  I don’t know about that…I don’t think everyone is lucky enough to have friends who go to such lengths.  I wonder if I would.

I have been lucky – no, BLESSED beyond measure – to have such friends in my life.  Friends who are loyal, faithful, who understand my quirks and love me anyway.  I am fiercely protective of my close friends.  Maybe it’s the “sister” in me that knows to appreciate and care for a great girlfriend.  I count all of these friends as a sister of sorts.

It’s been ten years and six kids between us.  Recently Erin and I got to meet up on her way to the beach.  Here are a couple of crappy iPhone pics of us doing the White Girl Duckface:

She asked me to bring my camera when I drove up to the beach to see her.  I wanted to do something for her that says “Thank you for who you are.  I’m so happy for  you and the family you’ve created.”

Erin – much love to you and your family.  Thanks for your friendship.  XO, Crystal.

Jan Rake Hernandez - LOVE this! And I love how you made a story board for each child – priceless! When they get older, they (and their wives) will each treasure these <3 I want to also add MY thanks to Erin, for being there for Crystal when I couldn't be. For loving my girl with the unconditional love of Jesus. For being the woman of God that you are. Love u! <3

Erin Bradley Beck - Thank You:) You two need to stop making me cry:) I miss her so much, I didn’t want our last visit to end. Meeting Ashlyn and Cam for the first time was so awesome. Our kids had so much fun together, we are definately going to do a vacation together hopefully next summer.