Any one that knows me knows that I am the girl who annoyingly brings up her family every two seconds. I can never get enough of watching my cousin Corrin perform a solo at her choir concert, or being sad that next Wednesday I have to miss Troy show off his voice at his concert. I will never get enough of my little nugget Mads' shocked face when I surprise her at her basketball games, and the big hug that follows. Every one of my surprise visits home is always worth it, especially with Grant giving me hugs and kisses all the way up the stairs to “last until next time I see him”. From my Uncle Jason who is always questioning my major choices, and my Uncle Scott who always makes fun of the holes in my jeans, I couldn't have asked for a more supportive and perfect family.
Recently, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my life journey, and how I got from point A to point B. I was told by an old friend the other day that I seem to be really happy, and quiet frankly, I am. Every goal I have set for myself thus far I have accomplished, but that wouldn’t be possible without the overwhelming support of the beautiful people I am surrounded by that I get to call my family. So, I thought it was time to direct one of my pieces towards giving thanks to the most influential people in my life.
To my nana, aunts, uncles and rambunctious cousins: For the sake of not making this thing a 50 pages thesis I thought I’d lump you all together (I hope that is okay). I am so thankful I had the opportunity to grow up with you all around me. I know it was not just my mother who raised me, but you guys, too. You guys always go out of your way to support me in everything I do, whether it’s sitting through long track meets with little children or giving me life advice while trying to figure out what I want to do post-college. I’ll never get tired of being called Lexi-Lou or getting pushed into the pool when I don’t ask for it. To those with little ones, thank you for letting me play such an integral part in their lives. Being a big cousin is one of my favorite roles in life, and I love watching them all grow into their own shoes (I am also very pumped for the new little guy on the way!!!). Not everyone has a chance to be so close to their family the way I am, and I’d like to thank all of you for giving me that opportunity.
To Tyler, Ty Bub (Tylerina in his golden days): thank you. You were forced to grow up well before you were supposed to, and I am sorry you didn’t get to enjoy the years of messing with your little sister around as much as the other boys did. But if it is any consolation, you were the first male figure in my life that I admired. You tell me all the time how proud you are of me, but a lot of what I am is a huge thanks to you. I had to compete with you, for everything. Since you were so great in high school, and I was branded as “Tyler’s little sister”, it was the first time I had to strive to be more. I needed a better GPA, SAT score, and resume for college, simply because I felt like I had no other choice but to live up to you. And when I was attempting to reach for the stars and failed, I knew you, my “competitor”, would be there to comfort me. During the “dark days”, as I call them, when I was crying in my room because of dad, or scared shitless, your presence gave me comfort. Through all that ugliness, I still remember my big brother giving me the biggest hugs and doing his best to pick up my broken pieces before his own. We may not always agree, or get along, but I will never forget how you made me a little less sad that I didn’t have a dad to celebrate on Father's Day back then, because I knew I had a perfectly good male role model already.
To Derrick: I know you came in a little later in my life, but boy did you make up for lost time. Your willingness to take into two grown kids as your own and continue to guide and raise us speaks volumes of your character. Saying I appreciate everything you’ve done and continue to do for me is an understatement. I know through any life choice I make, you will always have my back, even if you don’t necessarily agree. It’s funny how life and God’s plan works out sometimes, because I know without a doubt my life would have gone a completely different route if you had not entered it at the time you did. Besides Tyler, I never had that "dad figure" in my life. Not only did you give back Tyler the freedom to be a kid again, but you gave me a dad to look up to. You came to all of my games, spent hours helping perfect my basketball game despite my complaining, you did everything that great dads do. For my last crucial years of growth you gave me something I didn’t have my entire life and I thank God for that everyday. You gave me unconditional love, someone to visit me on Dad’s Weekend, someone to walk me down the aisle, and someone for my kids to call grandpa in the future. Everything I thought I’d never have the chance to have, you gave me in such short period of time and I am not sure I’ll ever be able to repay you for that. I am so excited to see our relationship continue to blossom and for all the fun dad and daughter things we’ll get to experience in the future. I love you D!! I wouldn’t want to have anyone else comfort me until 2am after a devastating loss in the state track meet but you.
And finally, to my beautiful mother: I am so happy you are my best friend. Nothing is better than spending hours on end cuddled up in the bed watching Grey's or whatever Netflix show of choice. I am thankful everyday that I have a mom I can truly tell anything to, whether it’s relationship related or my latest piercing and tattoo adventures. You’ve taught me how to be strong and independent, and I learned first hand from you that you do not have to be with someone to make yourself happy. Thanks to you I am caring, but will not let people walk all over me. I try to embody your compassion and fierceness in everything I do. It is your love, comfort, and passion you have for Tyler and me that drives me everyday. I hope when I am older, I can have a relationship just like ours with my own daughter. For most of your life you’ve had to make so many sacrifices, but you always put your job as a mother first, and even with the dark days, and the extremely hard times, you handled it with grace. Although you may disagree, I watched you fall down and pick yourself back up time and time again, sometimes without a hand to help you. I truly do believe that is why you have two kids with the ability to overcome so much adversity, because you gave us real life examples of how rise everyday. I hope you never stop asking me for fashion advice every time you need to get dressed, and I hope one day I’ll finally be able to kick your ass in the gym for once. I also hope that one day I can find the words to communicate to you how extremely grateful I am because even now, I feel like I can’t seem to find the words to articulate how much I love you. I know sometimes you may feel like you have made some poor choices, or have regrets with how you have handled certain situations as you were trying to do this mother thing alone, but I want you to know that I take so much pride in being able to call you my mother. I’m so proud of you and everything you have accomplished with the cards you were dealt. You will always be my biggest role model, and best friend.