in no particular order
my sister, who is the kindest, most compassionate person I know, who always knows how to make me laugh, and who always sees me regardless of how hard I try to hide
my mother, who raised me to be strong and independent, who taught me how to laugh and showed me how amusing the world can be, and who has shown me that she loves me no matter how hard a time she had when I first came out
my father, who is the most caring person I think I will ever know, who has spent his life giving music to those around him, and who was a father to every child who ever went through the music program at my high school
Judy, who has strength beyond anyone I have ever met, who has allowed me to adopt her as my second mother, and who has shown me the humor in every situation in my life and in hers
Josh, who is more of a brother to me than a friend, who shares my sense of adventure and wacky sense of humor. No one has ever made me laugh more than he has, and I don't think anyone has ever seen me as well.
my grandmother, who showed me what true strength is and also what it truly means to love. When I am with her, the love in the room is like a blanket.
my aunts, who have shown me that sometimes you have to dress up in gaudy sweaters, get up at 3 a.m., and get good deals on gifts because sometimes you just need to have that bonding experience with those who love you beyond anything you ever expected.
Bella, who is the kindest person I have ever met and who I can call and have a complete meltdown with and who doesn't think I'm the least bit insane. I am grateful for the laughter, the caring, the encouragement, the conversations, the tea, and the hugs. It is an honor to wait for her.
Bella's son, who really needs a new name on here, for helping me see the world through fresh eyes and for the amazing compassion that I already see forming in his heart. He will change the world.
my cat, who is immensely fuzzy and affectionate and who is currently sprawled across my lap purring her fuzzy heart out. She makes me laugh constantly and feel loved every time she brings me her pig.
my students, who constantly inspire me with their insights and with their stories, who sometimes laugh at my jokes even when they're really bad and it's way too early in the morning. They will change the world.
my former pastor, who I have been mourning ever since she left in July because I have never had a pastor who cared so much about me, who cared so much about the community, and who worked so hard to bring compassion and justice to the world. I want to be like her someday.
my former work study professor, who has been one of the greatest friends I have ever had, who is the most gentle, unassuming, generous person I have ever met, who gave me a home when I needed one, and who mothered me when I needed a mother. She even met my ex-fiance before even my own mother did.
my college friends, who constantly brightened my day and who still brighten my day just by thinking of them, whose pictures will always cover my walls, and who I can call up any day of the week and who I can always count on to be exactly the same as the last time I talked to them, even when their life circumstances change. That's a rare gift.
Judith, who deserves a category all by herself because no one understands me like she does and who cares like no other and who I can always count on to love me regardless
Martha, who, whether she knows it or not, I think of as my mother here. I feel like I could call her up whenever I'm feeling down and she would care. I find her strength, her kindness, and her compassion inspiring.
There are many, many others, but I am tired and I want to go to bed.