You were one who stayed up late with me, watching stupid movies and sharing slices of pizza until crazy hours of the night. You were the one who fought vigilantly by my side when someone made a crappy comment on the internet or started petty drama in the high school hallways. You were the one who put a drink in my hand when I was making myself sick with worry, and then force fed me ibuprofen when I was way too hungover to get my butt out of bed. You were the one who sent me Bible verses when my faith was shaken, and always remembered to text me, just to check in.
You were the one who made me laugh when my heart felt heavy, the one who held my hand as the tears fell, the one who picked up the phone on the first ring, and let me pour my tired heart out for the thousandth time. You were the one who wrote me letters in your perfect, loopy handwriting, reminding me of the love I deserve. You were the one who confronted me in the bathroom when I was getting ready for a date, looked into my eyes, and told me I was wasting my time with the wrong person.
It was you who showed me my worth, time and time again. Encouraging me when I was down, celebrating with me when I was up, supporting me on the days I didn’t believe in myself.
You were there for every step—my first love, first big-kid job, last day of college, every crazy fight with my parents, first real apartment, first heartbreak. You were there for the meaningless days, just sitting out by the pool in the summer, talking about classes and drama and family and boys. You were there for the day I got my degrees, my twenty-first birthday, the day I moved across the country to start my new life.
It was you who taught me that time and distance don’t have power over a real connection. It was you who showed me that real love doesn’t leave, doesn’t run, doesn’t fade when the roads turn and twist.
It was you who showed me who I was and had the potential to be, time and time again, when I was too distracted by fear and sweet nothings and empty promises to notice I had wandered away from you, away from myself.
For so long I was wrapped up in relationships, in trying to find the right person, in trying to make the wrong ones fit. I was convinced that my worth was dependent upon who loved me, and so sure that who I was as a person was solely measured by my role as a girlfriend.
But it was you who taught me that I was far more than that.
With your arms around my shoulders and your kiss on my cheek, you taught me that I was valued for my heart—not in the romantic sense, but how big my heart was, my capacity to love. With your kind words and laughter, you showed me that there was so much more to me, to life, than falling in love.
And it was you who taught me what love was—not conditional, not dependent on circumstance or someone whispering sweet things to you in the middle of the night. Not with an expiration date or specific rules. Not because of what I could give, but who I was.
It was you who showed me that love stays, that love fights, that love is next you, walking with you every step of the way. You, who showed me that love doesn’t change with the seasons or life’s obstacles. You, who reminded me that I was wonderful and valued and important and worthy.
It was you who was there—through every blown off date, every crappy kiss, every failed relationship, every impermanent connection, and every time I realized I wasn’t ready to love.
It was you who gave me strength when I was down, who reminded me of all I had fought through and all the potential I had left to be. It was you who didn’t break my heart, didn’t say one thing and mean another, didn’t promise me forever and find a forever somewhere else.
It was you who taught me about the possibility of love—far greater than I had ever imagined. So thank you. Thank you for being the person who didn’t leave, didn’t drift with time, didn’t make me feel as if love has conditions and rules.
Thank you for showing me the love I hope to find one day with a romantic partner—a love that is real, and pure, and embedded in your heart—a soul connection.
I know these words will never be enough to tell you all that you mean to me. Just know that I am the person I am because of the care you’ve shown me. And I only hope that we’ll be in each other’s lives as long as we’re on this earth—sharing poolside mimosas, tacos at sunset, and all our secrets until the sun comes up. Thank you for being you.