seventeen years

Ok, fine. I am dating myself. I mean, I am outdated. I mean, ugh, never mind.

On May 22, 1998, I graduated from high school. If you do the math, that would make me … upset with you. Don’t do that. 

I don’t believe for one second I’ve been out of school that long. I can still remember the day so clearly. It became a very bittersweet day as we did our best to celebrate with family and friends while we also learned of and mourned the loss of a classmate who died unexpectedly in an auto accident that morning after practice. The seat she was due to sit in was marked only by flowers. We still smiled and cheered, but it certainly wasn’t the same.

And now, on this May 22, 2015, I find that the same emotion applies. It’s just a bittersweet day. Now, I’m completely fine with celebrating this one. My niece, Alyssa, and several other of my favorites (you kiddos know who you are!), are graduating from high school today. I think her mom might be a bit sad … I can’t really tell. Just kidding. I can.

I am celebrating because this beautiful girl has so much ahead of her. As an aunt, I don’t think I could possibly be more proud. She is so sure of who she is and what she wants that I’m just not worried about it. She’s going to go off to work at a camp this summer and then to school in the fall to study criminal justice. P.S. We are nothing alike.

The only thing I really find myself doing today is reflecting over the friend she’s become to me and how I look forward to our relationship developing on a much deeper level as she continues to mature and grow into an amazing woman. I think back over this past three years and how hard it must have been for her to see some of what was transpiring for me, but while she could have stepped back and let others try to pull me out of the pit, she just hopped right in and was like, ‘hey, Aunt Staci, i just wanna hang out.’ And I just love her to pieces for it.

That first summer I was on my own, she and her sister stayed with Connor and I several times and I needed those moments so badly. We had dance parties in the car,  tried our hand at stupid faces and she and I shared some late night conversations that I question now given she was only 15. But she became a pretty solid rock for me and I’m just thankful.

We also shared some really important moments on our mission trip to Guatemala that I know God was just so stoked to plan out as I wasn’t even going to be on the trip until just before it took place. She’s not a crier (again, we’re nothing alike), but I got her in tears (unintentionally!) and it was so precious.

And now, here she is. She’s going to find herself holding a diploma and wondering what. the.heck? just happened. Or rather, because she’s Alyssa, she’ll be like, ‘cool. let’s get on to the good stuff.’ And that’s why I love her face off.

Alyssa, my dear. Don’t you dare ever forget anything you and I have shared over this past three years, and of course, the 15 before. You are one of my very best good friends and I couldn’t possibly love you more. I am so proud of this woman of God that you’ve become and are still in the process of becoming. I’m just ridiculous excited for what’s coming up for you. I might even be afraid of you once you’ve been formally trained in whatever discipline you decide to pursue. I hope and pray that you never forget your aunt is available … 24/7 … for whatever you might need. And. I’ll even promise to take care of your weepy mama as you wave ‘so long’ in the fall. Thank you for making it so easy to trust that you know where to put your hope. It makes the ‘so long’ a little less painful (and a lot more exciting. sorry, still giddy!).

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But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love,And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously. – Micah 6:8 (one of my very favorites)

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