You've been around far too long to not hear this thank-you.

After about 8 years, I think it's fair to say that you know me better than I know myself. On the days I can't necessarily pinpoint what's getting me down, you've usually got a pretty good idea, and you've already figured out what to do in order to lift my spirit. Like my own mother, you know my "normal", and you're the first to recognize when something's a little off kilter. When I'm acting out of the ordinary or something seems out of place, you know me well enough to ask what's up.

You're familiar with my strengths and weaknesses, and you always encourage me to pursue them. You're honest with me. And you know the difference between the times when I need you to be straight forward with me and the times when I need a delicate reminder to get it together. You never hesitate to call me out when I need a little attitude adjustment, and you never let me get down on myself without a little word of encouragement. But that's only one of the ways you make me a better version of myself. When I'm feeling unconfident, you are quick to remind me of my strengths, and very quickly you pull me out of my pity parties.

You offer me a safe place to come to when I'm struggling and don't know where to turn. You hold secrets I couldn't even muster to tell some of my closest friends, and you truly listen to me. You scold me, sure, if that's what I need-- I mean you are still a "mom" figure in my life, but you are also gentle and compassionate when I need nurturing, just like my mother would.

One of my favorite things about you is that you say what's on your mind. You're blunt, and anyone who knows you knows this about you. And although it may have hurt my feelings once or twice, I needed your honesty. No one gets anywhere in life by being babied, and I sure as hell don't want to be oblivious to my shortcomings.

You offer a serious and sensitive side to our relationship, but more importantly you offer a carefree, fun side. Whether we are sitting out on the back deck enjoying a hot summer day and working on our tans with drinks in hand, or meeting up for dinner and drinks where you wouldn't hesitate to not-so-gracefully hint at the cute server that I'm single, there's no doubt that wherever we are, whatever we're doing, laughs will be shared. In fact, many of those laughs lead to a few to many margaritas and someone usually nearly wetting their pants from laughing too hard. You are my second mom, but you are my friend too.

Your hugs bring a comfort that I can't find anywhere else. When I first met you, you weren't necessarily the most sensitive person, but that has changed a bit since then. I always knew, though, that when you would get sentimental, you actually meant it. I don't think that'll ever change. You have a tough barrier to break through, but once you're on the inside it's clear. The hugs get tighter, the sentiments get sweeter, and the laughs get louder.

Thank you for being you. Every single ounce of who you are, you have brought joy and comfort and fun to my life. You have made average days more enjoyable and bad days better. You are my rock, constantly and steadily supporting me no matter what, and without you I would crumble. I love you to the moon and back again.