To My Step-Dad,

Thank You.

Thank you for never trying to be my father, or to replace him, but instead for fostering friendship and giving me advice and constructive criticism when I so sorely needed it.

Thank You for not hating me when I did nothing but hate you. I was hurt and sad and I felt like no one would ever understand what it meant to have their family torn apart. Except you did understand, even when I didn’t realize it. You didn’t push, you supported me and you worked to be my friend, my confidant, someone I knew I could call.

Thank you for treating my mom the way she deserves to be treated, for elevating each of our personalities and accepting them. Thank you for teaching me about love, selflessness and how to be a friend.

Thank you for reminding me that we should work hard for the things we want, but to take time off for the things that matter.

Thank you for taking time off for me. For driving to help me hang photos in my first apartment, for the times you hear me complain, and how you know exactly what to do to fix those problems. Thank you for not just listening to me, but for hearing me. Even if I talk for hours.

Thank you for not judging me by my mistakes, my shortcomings and my failures and instead by the ways I recover from them.

Thank you for being my second dad, even when I was certain I would never need one. Thank you for never making me choose.

Thank you for the ways you respect my memories, for your interest in our life before you were part of it. Thank you for sharing your past with us. Our lives didn’t start seven years ago when you started dating our mom, thank you for not acting like it.

Thank you for your sacrifices, for your laugh, for your new perspective. Thank you for connecting with my brother when I couldn’t. Thank you for loving our mother when she needed it most.

Thank you for taking our broken family and being really, really good with superglue. We are seamless now, we are happy again, we laugh and we are friends.

Thank you for making family mean "home" again.

The thing is, I got lucky. I got really lucky, I have a step dad who loves me like a daughter, jokes with me like a friend and reminds me what kind of love I want when I am older.

Thank you for being my parent when you didn’t mean to and for teaching me that love is friendship and laughs, that it’s being goofy and thoughtful. It’s putting people around you first, even if they don’t always deserve it. Thank you for showing me that you never need to yell to be heard, that listening is more important that talking and that we always have family to turn to; family doesn’t always flow through our veins, it lives in our hearts.

Thank You.