Here's what I would like to say about my friend, Matthew, as he celebrates his 42nd -- or 43rd year.
One of my favorite bits of advice comes from Anna Quindlen, a writer I admire. She once said that to be a good friend, all one had to do was to show up, listen, and try to laugh. To me, that's what it's like working with Matthew.
He always shows up, from that very first moment years ago when I was star-struck and trembling making my first call to him as an editor for Country Home. His work is so highly regarded, I couldn't believe they were trusting me with chaperoning his stories. I learned very quickly, that though he could be a prima donna like so many people in publishing are, he isn't. He shows up when he says he will, when he's expected, and with all his work done. There's a steadiness in Matthew that is awesome and comforting.
He always listens. Whether he's listening to his readers and fans about what they admire in a story, or to his editors about what's required for a piece to work. Most often, he listens to his inner genius, the hard-working little spirit within him who lights his creative fires. As a collaborator, I appreciate that he listens to me. It's a sign of respect, and I treasure it.
And he always tries to laugh. For those of you lucky enough to have heard his characteristic giggle, you know he has pure joy in him and is generous enough to share it. No matter how tired he might be from long hours, or how difficult a particular shot is to get, he finds something to laugh about, some way to lighten the mood and ease the situation. The best is when he laughs at something you said. For a moment, he makes you feel you're the most important person in the room, and we all know how great that feels. It's a special person who can do that for someone else.
Thank you, Matthew, for showing up, listening, and always trying to laugh. I look forward to many more years of our friendship. Happy Birthday!