You were my partner in crime and I could do no wrong in your eyes. All I ever wanted to do was make you proud and although it's been 5 years since you went to heaven, I still do everything with you in mind.

I was 16 years old when you went home to be with God and a lot has changed in my life since then. I've accomplished goals that I had when you were still here and new ones that have come along as I've grown. Although you may not have physically been here for all of these accomplishments, I know you were still close by. It's something that I never fail to remember because I have a special way of keeping you close.

Before doing anything big in my life, I always say a prayer — not only to God but also to you. Anytime I need comfort to calm my nerves or courage to take the next step towards something that means the most to me — you're there. I talk to you because I know you listen. I can feel you there next to me.

You taught me how to pray. Before family meals, you'd insist that we all take each other's hands as you spoke to God aloud for all of us to hear. Through the years, I learned how to talk to God too, by watching you. As I got older, I sometimes led our family prayers at the table. What I said was never quite as good as hearing your words to God, but I based what I said on the words I'd learned from you, and you'd smile — I knew that made you proud.

You will always be proud of me. I can only imagine the look on your face when I became head majorette for my high school marching band, graduated high school, became a collegiate twirler for BGSU, was accepted to the Disney College Program and everything in between. These huge accomplishments in my life still always tie back to you. Before each tryout, before I walked across that stage, before applying for my internship — I talked to you.

This is how I continue to feel close to you today. When I pray for guidance, courage or strength, I pray to God and then I ask you to be there with me as well. I always ask that you place your hand on my shoulder and not let go. This gives me assurance that you are not only here with me, but that you are actively touching my life with your love and comfort when I need it most. It's like you're still sitting across from me at the table as I listen to you speak to God, except now you're standing across the gym floor, sitting in the audience or holding my hand as I press submit.

When I pray to you and God — I'm filled with confidence and courage to do everything I set out to do. Saying that I pray to you may seem odd to others, but it makes sense to me. You're with God in heaven. You're the one that brought me closer to him when I was young. He used you as a vessel in my life - to develop my faith, to provide me with endless love and to be my best friend. It only makes sense that He continues to use you in my life, especially now that you're right by His side.

I love having this way special way of knowing that you're still here with me. You'll forever be my partner in crime — with your hand on my shoulder, giving me strength and teaching me how to follow God and live the life He has planned for me.