Aspen Strauss – for waiting
We’ve known each other for a while. I’m so upset this is the first year I’ve really realized how insanely amazing you are. As I spent the first part of the year so completely lost, you were there. You have been a constant when that was all I really needed. You have been a friend when I wasn’t sure I had many of those. When the walls started to crumble, I realized that you were still standing, waiting. I am so full of thanks for you there is no way to truly express it.
Ben Taylor – for laughing
Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for random pictures of baked beans and your stupid laugh that makes me laugh harder. Thank you for late-night car conversations and for being like the coolest sophomore ever. Thank you for just talking at me for hours when I needed a friend but didn’t have the energy to speak. I appreciate you — greatly.
Jasmine Dawson – for fighting
Oh baby, my baby. I love you. Your presence is a stubborn light and full of well-earned joy. There is a fight in you that has resulted in, and continues to create, the purest light. The light that fills any person lucky enough to be touched by it. Even when you struggle, even when it hurts, you are pure beauty Jasmine. And all I can say is thank you for letting me be a part of your story.
Jeff Tolar – for unlocking the door
Our little talks as you walked me back to Mr. George’s room to unlock the door for me started off really awkward. Now, I look forward to the days I get to school early, or Mr. George gets there late, and I get to walk down to The Clubhouse to find you. Thank you for your joking nature and your good-natured ribbing that never fails to make me smile and laugh and always brightens up my morning. Even if we convince Mr. George to give me a key, I’m not sure I’d want to use it.
Meggy – for staying
I’m sitting here, crying, because I love you so much it doesn’t all fit inside me. I need to thank you for being my forever friend. My friend that always comes back. My friend that just knows me. We aren’t always a part of each other’s lives — sometimes life has taken us in different directions. But, we have always fought to end up back together again. Thank you for fighting, for staying, and know that I will always fight for you. You’re my forever.
Nisha – for holding on
You’re so far away. And my friend, I miss you desperately. I miss you daily. I was so scared about you leaving; I was so scared about you leaving me. But, you never really did. You have kept me close through it all, and I’m not sure you understand how much that means to me. You have held on to the thread that connects us, and more than once, that thread has held me above the water. So, thank you for holding tight. Thank you for being someone I can always talk to. Thank you for sharing your college experience with me and reminding me it gets better. I love you.
Susan Toppen- for hugging
I get a hug from Susan Toppen every day. To me, those hugs mean the world. I’m not entirely sure when they started — I don’t know when exactly we discovered our mutual love for the physical expression of friendship, but discover we did. And now I know that at least once a day I’ll be enveloped in the biggest, warmest, sweetest, and most loving hug.
Susan, your hugs remind me daily to stop, breath, and remember that there is love in the world. People say you never know when there might be an angel in your midst; every time I am in a room with you I know I am in the presence of an angel.
I know you’re human. I’ve seen the raw sides of you — or at least the parts you’ve let me see. But the way you are able to make everyone you meet feel deeply special is a God-given gift that transcends all else. I see people light up in your midst. I see people take their first real, deep breath of the day while wrapped in your arms. I see the way you let God lead you in love. And I hope you know that someone sees all of that — and loves you for it.
I love you, Susan.