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TCT’s The Countless Thanks 2019: Lynlee Derrick

The Graduate Girls for loving

It hurt so much, so deeply, when every one of you left. Honestly, it felt like a piece of me left; a piece of me left Grand Rapids—practically abandoning me—and moved on, leaving me in the doomed dust with nothing. But I realized that no matter the distance or issue, you all will always be there. After last year, a year filled with laughter and just as many tears, I’ve never felt more accepted and beloved, and I thank you for that. It’s strange to have felt such a connection with people my brother’s age and not my own, but that strangeness is welcome any day if it means still knowing all of you. So thank you to the moon and back because I earnestly believe that you all are a few of the only people who understand. Never stop doing great things either. Thank you, Sus, for the breathtaking pictures and remarks on VSCO even if you’re busy blossoming at Wheaton like the flourished flower you’ve always been. Thank you, Nisha, for never forgetting to check in even if Arizona is the place you’ve been destined for your whole life. Thank you, Reena, for being a somewhat carbon copy of me and never forgetting me even at Michigan; my biggest fear was that you—someone I relied on too much with all of my cracking heart—would move on as soon as you moved out, but I’m so thankful for our late night facetime calls, endless advice, and Instagram posts. And finally, thank you, Sarah, because you may be at Taylor, but you will always remember this town and me as you flood my phone every night with love, news, and coveted TikToks. Thank you so, so much because, without the four of you, I don’t think I’d smile as often.

Staff for being home

Every year a part of me melts into nerves over the start of TCT—the start of new staff. And I attribute these nerves to the fact that TCT is my space; it’s the one place in FHC where I feel safe and okay and loved. I sincerely mean that too. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t walked into that Writing For Publication class during my freshman year despite being a mere thirteen years old and looking even younger. Yet this staff and our words have always been guiding lights for me, and each and every one of you have always been there for me too. So thank you, and I will continue thanking you for the rest of my life. Abby, Ashlyn, Courtney, Jordan, Morgan, Emma, Olivia, Nat, Amanda, Dana, Linus, and Meredith, I will never forget all of you when I look back on my high school days and recount how you all made me smile, laugh, and overfill with joy to my grandkids because you all deserve to be remembered. You all have made staff what it is, and you have made my heart oh so happy. I know I hate emotional things and saying the big L word, but every time I walk out of the TCT room at 2:45, I count down the hours until I walk back in just to see you all—my safe space of love—again.

Abby Wright for staying

Okay, so I know you’re a part of staff, but you’re kind of a lot more to me. I remember that you and I both mentioned in the first day of WFP that we liked fries—cheese fries. For some reason, because of that, I think my mind just went, “This is it, Lynlee. She’s the one,’ and just tied an imaginary rope around you so you’d never walk away. And you haven’t. You haven’t walked away or out of my life; you’ve stayed on that green couch even if it meant tears. You’ve held my head in your lap while silent sobs wreak havoc on my body, you’ve sat in my car listening to our obscure music and just understanding anything, and you’ve made me laugh and wonder if I peed myself. You’ve done it all, and you’ve done it all by my side. You’ve taught me not everyone has to leave—not everyone has to hurt you—and for that I’m forever grateful. I struggle sometimes, but you’ve always shown me amber love full of passion. Out of all the people in the world, I attribute my smile most often to you. You’ve taught me I have worth, so thank you. I will never forget you, Abby Wright, because even when I grow old and my hands are veiny despite trying everything the Kardashians told me to do to prevent that, I will recount all the days during our fours years here—our four years writing—where you’ve been what gets me out of bed. I don’t think you could even fathom how much you mean to my feeble mind, but you mean a lot, so thank you for it all and for sharing a love for words.

Ayesha Jeddy for being you

I first met you in fifth grade on the first day of school. You and I locked eyes when our teacher, Mrs. Rundquist, absolutely butchered your name. You sighed, and I smiled. I don’t think you realize how much I needed that smile. So thank you. Fifth grade was a terrifying year for me as I was split from all my friends in every way, so it was nice to replace the sobs with a smile, and I’m glad you continued making me smile that whole year. And then, funnily enough, we were in our sixth-grade class together too. I think that was fate, Ayesha, and I really think that’s true because you’ve been so much and more in my life. Now it’s six years later, and we’re in eleventh grade. I’m glad you have become more than a friend of convenience. I’m glad you’re still here. I’m glad we still talk. I’m glad we still sit in APES every day laughing like fools. Your kindness is unmatched, and it shows because whenever I mention you to other people, I only get back remarks of how much others adore you, and I hope you realize your impact. You’ve done so much for me and others. There aren’t many people quite like you in the world, and I mean that in the best way. I’m so thankful I’m lucky to have you in my life. 

Señor for a lasting impact

Yesterday, you gave me a hug. I’m not someone who hugs. I don’t do it often, and I don’t think I’m good at it, but you gave me a hug. And you gave me two years of dedication. You gave me two years of inspiration. Freshman year I didn’t really have much of a love for Spanish. But then I had you for a teacher, and that was fate, for you did so much more than teach. I think it’s just your personality, honestly, to go above and beyond. While you’re a Spanish teacher, you’re a lot more every time you step into that classroom. You’re an inspiration to keep going. You’re an inspiration to be a better person because you’re one of the most selfless people I know. You’re someone who cares too as you always asked everyone how they were. That’s just who you are. You’re that guy, the one who’s bursting at the seams with love and care for the world. Because of that, I think I absorbed some of it, and I thank you for that. That’s the best kind of thing, taking in someone else’s happiness, because you’ve pushed me as a student and a person. Without you, I wouldn’t have gone to the Dominican Republic. I wouldn’t have felt the joy of the little kids after putting in seesaws. I wouldn’t have laughed myself to death after watching you kill a tarantula with a chancla. I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I wouldn’t still be in Spanish. You’ve inspired me, Señor, and I’ve done great things because of that. Thank you.

Barcelona Babes for acceptance

There’s so many of you, yet before the trip, I knew absolutely no one. I was so nervous. I didn’t know if anyone would like me, and I had never traveled alone. I sobbed in the Chicago airport and was sent to Germany, yet when I eventually landed in Barcelona, I got into a taxi with one of the nicest girls I have ever met (hi, Kate) and knew everything was going to be okay. I started the best month of my life in that taxi. I genuinely mean that. My month in Barcelona was the best time of my life because of everyone I met. All of you made it the best month for me. I remember sitting in Carlos’s Spanish class and just absolutely laughing and infamously snorting with Jen, Ethan, Clayton, Wafa, and Claudia. I remember walking the streets of the Gothic quarters with Corinne, Carigan, Olivia, Lauren, and Hannah. I remember the beach days where almost all of the program showed up and indulged in life abroad. I remember it all, and I remember all of you. I remember the kindness you showed me, the laughs you shared, the love you gave me. Now, as I sit here in freezing Michigan, I am still grateful for it all. You all accepted me with welcoming arms when you didn’t have to. You all have shown me that even though I only spent a month with you, friendships aren’t about time, they’re about trust and love, and I have those both for all of you.

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