An Open Letter To My Cousin Rachael
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An Open Letter To My Cousin Rachael

To the talented girl who constantly inspires me.

An Open Letter To My Cousin Rachael
Stephen Seay

Dear Rachael,

I miss you already. You live all the way in North Carolina, and any amount of time I get to spend with you is never enough. But your wedding this past weekend is among one of the best experiences of my life, and one I will never, ever forget. Meeting your hilarious, talented and unique friends; getting to spend time with you and your awesome wife; and seeing the beautiful Lake Lure for the first time was amazing. Thank you so much for all the memories.

Jen is perfect for you, by the way. We all love her so much, and you deserve someone who makes you so happy. I see the way you two look at each other, and I want that for myself. The love you have for her is palpable, and that kind of adoration is so hard to come by. I'm ecstatic that you have that in your life, and I know you two will love each other boundlessly for years to come.

I hope you know that you're a huge role model to me. You were the first gay person I ever knew, and you made me feel like that was okay. You didn't know that I was struggling with my sexuality, but you still gave me the courage to come out and to accept myself. You're one of the strongest people I know, and I am constantly amazed at how talented you are, how you refuse to give up. I hope that one day I can be like that.

You make me feel like I'm not crazy for the way music has changed my life, because I know that it's done the same for you. You're a self-taught singer that made herself a household name in Charlotte; it's still amazing to me. I'll never get sick of hearing you sing. It's still mind-blowing to me how talented you are. How did that never make it over to my side of the family?

I've always felt like I belonged when I'm with you. Even around all those people that I had never met before, I didn't feel out of place. Everything about me that I or anyone else found bad, or wrong, or stupid, it all feels fine when I'm with you. Because you understand me. Because you're just like me. Even though I hardly ever get to see you, just knowing you're out there killing it every single day with all the confidence in the world even though you're not exactly "normal", it empowers me to keep pushing forward in life.

You're one of the most exceptional individuals I've ever met in my life, and I'd spend every minute with you if I could. You make me feel special and important, and during a weekend where you had a hundred people to split your time between, you still made some for me and that means the world to me.

So this letter is to the strong, beautiful woman who has always encouraged me and treated me like I had real value, no matter what I thought of myself. A week apart from you feels like ten years, but somehow we go years at a time without seeing each other. Every time I see you, though, time slows to a stop. I live for those moments, where I feel normal, loved, and confident. Heck, you got me to sing karaoke in front of thirty incredibly talented people that I didn't even know.

You've given me someone I can relate to on so many levels, but at the same time, a higher standard to strive for. I don't know how you do that, but I am in a constant state of awe and admiration for you.

I love you, Jen, Uncle Rob, Auntie Sue, and Austin more than I can express in words, despite how good you seem to think I am at doing that. Thank you for all the ways you have changed my life. Thank you for teaching me how to love and accept myself, thank you for showing me that I don't have to be serious all the time. Thank you for leading by example with all of your self-made success, from singing and performing to your "real" job. Thank you for being you, Rach. I wouldn't trade you for the world.

With all the love in the world,

Your favorite cousin.

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