Earlier this year, my high school community was met with heartbreak. On January 2nd, my former theology teacher, Charlene Dishaw, passed away unexpectedly and a little over a month later on February 8th, a beloved classmate and friend, Owen Eliasen, left us after months of battling with his health. These tragic losses, so close together, have given me a lot to think about recently. It's hard to fathom losing a family member and while I feel fortunate for both mine and my family's health, my heart aches for the relatives of these two individuals and anyone who's experienced such loss.

I believe due to busy schedules and our innate human thought that we are invincible, not necessarily in a superhero way, but in a way that we expect we'll always be met with a tomorrow, a next month, a next year, we don't talk enough about what we appreciate in one another day to day. I saw a quote on Instagram shortly after these passings that said, "Sometimes we wait too long to let our heroes know how high they reside." That quote and these last few months wrapped in stunning heartbreak have made me evaluate the way I communicate to my people that I appreciate them. Ultimately, it's made me sad that sometimes it takes tragic loss to talk about why you love someone. So, although it's maybe an odd topic for an article, today, just because I can, I'd like to publicly share the reasons my family means so much to me.

To my dad,

Sara Weber

I am so humbled to be your daughter. I've gotten, "do you know how great your dad is?" more times than I can count, and the answer is always, yes, yes I do. I don't know a single person more loving, understanding, filled with second chances for his mistake making, three children than you. My work ethic and drive for success are rooted in the examples you've set and the passions you've instilled in me. I carry the sentiment, anything is possible if you want it and try hard enough, from your example. I could never thank you enough for sharing Marquette with me and giving me the opportunity to attend school here, you will never know how much these years have meant to me. I am so thankful you're here and I'm so thankful for your bad dance moves and "dope" shoes and for our phone calls and for you not giving up on the anxiety-stricken middle schooler I once was. I'm thankful I can make you proud because you make me proud, every single day.

To my mom,

Sara Weber

My first best friend, as I like to say. My go-to phone call when I'm walking home from class, when I can't remember how long to cook salmon, when my car is making weird noises, to the moon and back, I just love you - for all the big things and even more so, for all the little things. You taught me why it's important to be caring, but still stand up for yourself and the things you believe in, to always be stronger than your strongest excuse, and why it's beneficial to sometimes open your ears instead of your mouth. Thank you for the years spent attending piano recitals, tennis tournaments, and track meets. I can only imagine how fun sitting in the cold Wisconsin "spring" watching me run 400 meters was, but every time I looked up in the bleachers, there you were, and I am grateful. Words can't and won't ever do you justice, you are everything I hope to be as a mom and woman when I'm older. Simply put, thank you. Thank you for all the times you drove to Milwaukee just because I needed a hug. Thank you for giving me two of the most wonderful siblings. Thank you for celebrating my accomplishments, no matter how small. Thank you for everything, well, everything minus the bangs in elementary school.

To my big brother,

Sara Weber

I think it's pretty obvious that ever since I was born, I've worked tirelessly to try and be just like you, which I believe is spoken for in our mirroring personality traits. I know that you can't genetically inherit things from your siblings, but I am positive my humor wouldn't be the way it is today if it weren't for growing up with a brother like you. I am thankful for all the hours spent watching The Office together, for you picking up my bar tab on more than one occasion, for you chasing me around our childhood home, for showing me that you can make dean's list in college while still having stupid amounts of fun with your friends, for holding me the day I was born and everyday after, you are one of my biggest blessings and I probably don't tell you that enough. A 27 year old and a 21 year old aren't typically friends, but you are mine and I am grateful.

To my big sister,

Sara Weber

I think my favorite thing about us is how different we are. I believe we are closer and share a stronger bond because of it. I am thankful for our daily drives to school when we were younger that turned into daily phone calls between two adults who now live in different states. I am thankful for the Target trips, for the meme tags on Facebook and Instagram, for the runs you drag me on. I am thankful for how much you've grown these past five years and I'm thankful, that even as your younger sister, I get to be one of your biggest support systems. You are stronger than you realize and have more potential than you know. I'm grateful you have Ryan because he's become family and we all love him too. Thank you for continuing on and making me proud, nothing stands a chance against you.