At this point, I've given too many 'squeeze tight' hugs to know that they don't prevent the heartache or the absence of a loved one who lives far away; even though I always expect them to. Its never mattered how many extra seconds I held on for. I just knew it was comforting in the moment. Truthfully, long distance relationships thoroughly suck, but I've learned a lot through them.

As long as I can remember, my dad has driven a semi truck throughout the week and is only home on the weekends. When I was little and only tall enough to hug him around his leg, I'd squeeze him as tightly as possible, he would kiss me on the forehead, and tell me how much he loved his little girl. tears... I know. Usually, after he'd hardly get out of the door, I'd run after him for one more hug... It couldn't EVER just be one hug and I still can't tell you why.

Even though there may be some daddy/daughter time that was missed, he's still been there for everything he possibly could have and more.

And even to this day, I say "Dad's home" and my dogs bolt to the door no joke. ((probably because he brings them McDonald's..spoiled)) Bottom line, after twenty years I've realized a few thing things.

a.) It doesn't get easier to say goodbye and wish him a good week.

b.) I still don't call him enough.

Sending extra surprises for him through out the week helped me too. I would slip homemade cookies with a note in his bag so he could find them at some point during the week. I always wanted him to know he's always thought about and that I'll never be able to thank him enough for the time he has sacrificed to support us. I literally won't ever be able to accomplish that but I think cookies help..

My grandparents live forever and a day away (really, only eight hours... but as a kid in a car, it felt like forever). After twenty years of minimal grandparent quality time, I'm still confused as to why our generation doesn't have 'grandma matching' websites?? Spending time with her in the kitchen, cookin' up her famous dessert like every grandma has, is irreplaceable. Living without embarrassing stories of my parents has been a killer too. My grandparents have always live out of state and spending any kind of quality time with them had to be lived within seventy-two hours, three times a year. Now that they're both gone I've realized a few things.

a.) Sometimes there's nothing you can do to change the situation, but you can make the best of it.

b.) Unconditional love will never be defined by distance.

My brother Dan served in the army about seven years ago and whether he was in basic training or Afghanistan, I couldn't wait to Skype or write him letters in only red or blue.. because that's totally the American thing to do.

At one point in his service, I had no idea Dan came home from leave. He surprised me and woke me up for school the morning he got home. I still can't even explain the pure joy in my heart that morning!!

A picture of his daughter had me giggling so hard. She's only four, absolutely beautiful, and going to have to deal with everything I did growing up...(she won't be able to date until she's married hehe).

a.) I don't call him enough either.. Truthfully, some people you just can't call enough, you still unbearably miss them.

b.) Whether it be a picture of his family or he's telling me he's moved up in his job again, I'll always be proud of him as a person. Just because there's only like 1,000 miles between us doesn't mean I don't get overly excited for him. Actually, it makes me hate the miles between us even more.

In high school, my last thought was adding another LDR. After two years of dating my high school sweetheart, we parted ways and went to different colleges. It's takes prayer, patience, trust, and a lot of communication to go so long without seeing my better half. The 48 hours that seem to go by way too fast, are some of the best times we've had together. Yeah, it's not easy but honestly what relationship is?

So out of this crazy mess, what have I learned?

a.) I'm don't fear as much. I've always been a fearful person. Enough that my mom would have to introduce me to friends when we went camping. I never been exactly 'confident' which plays a huge factor into relationships. I've gotten pretty worked up over basically nothing on the phone with Matt. I've questioned my ability in being a girlfriend, am I good enough, what if he meets someone better... the list goes on.

Matt and I are complete opposites because the boy walks with peace and calmness in any crisis while I'm going in circles how not having a clue what to do. Although I worry, he reassures me what's true and reminds me of the truth.

b.) Whether you're in a LDR or with your better half all of the time, you have to intentionally date. Sometimes, we invest our time together in movies, electronics, or other things that distract us away from interacting with each other. We don't get every night or even every weekend now, so we go on really cool dates now, talk about our day, and learn more about each other than ever.

c.) Saying goodbye will never ever ever get any easier. period.

d.) I trust frat boys now. It's a miracle.

5.) Morgie, Dani, and Hannah: my sweet CofO sisters. It felt like a break-up when I transferred schools without them. We survived a year without our cars (it's a College of the Ozarks thing), daily cafe food, General, Organic, Bio-Chemistry, and just getting through our first year away from home together. I've never laughed or cried at 2 a.m. so hard with anyone in my life. We still have a group text and when we see each other, it's like time hasn't passed. Soooo....

a.) You can NEVER replace sisters.

b.) We still visit each other and it will never ever ever get any easier to say goodbye. Also, sometimes you have to be spontaneous with distance. On weekends that you and said friend don't have to work or have homework (which are very rare and impossible to plan) you drive two hours to see said friend.. :)