Just Exactly How Sweet is it to be Loved by You?

Dear Littles and Germinates,

Who loves you? I mean who, really? Have you taken time this new year, this (let’s be honest) only now officially new millennium, to take stock of the people in your life? Do it now. As soon as you finish reading this sentence, close the paper, close your eyes, and review the names and faces of the joyful souls, the fast and firm friends, and the blessings in human guise that make your life worth living.

Who did you come up with? Your family? Friends here? Friends at home? When were the last times you paused for a moment to tell them, “”Hey, did you know that I’m glad I’m alive at the same time you are?”” You need to do that more often, don’t you?

I’m sure that I do. I am blessed with generous and brilliant parents, a hilarious and thoughtful brother, and many friends near and far who shower me with love, support and inspiration. I don’t thank them nearly enough.

I want to take a moment to sing the praises of one particular friend of mine. I invite you to read along, and to reflect on how you might do the same for the people in your life.

My friend’s birthday is coming up, which makes this the perfect time to go on record to say that my friend is the one who makes my spirit soar, who gives wings to my life.

We’ve known each other almost eight years now. We met in high school and have kept in touch since. We’ve had our ups and downs; times we weren’t speaking with each other; times no one else could get a word in between us.

My friend goes to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., so we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like. But my friend is very happy there.

My friend co-founded an environmental activist group that has made local and state headlines. My friend has played the college game well enough to thrive academically, while retaining a genuine love of learning. My friend has kept in touch with and grown closer to our companions from high school, while gathering a wide and wonderful group of new friends at college.

When I came back to San Diego after a year away, I used my friend’s success as a model for what I could do here. This is only one among many ways I draw inspiration from my friend.

My friend won a national scholarship last year. My friend brought me a four-leaf clover once. My friend is learning to play catch and to whistle. When the time came, after six years of hitch-hiking, for me to get my driver’s license, my friend was the one who gave me lessons, urged me on, and got up early in the morning to take me to the test.

My friend also happens to be beautiful. My friend has a comfortable way that sets people at ease. My friend has a great body, and the right fashion sense to go with it. My friend has taught me to be comfortable with my own sexuality. My friend has taught me new ways of relating to my friends and my family.

My friend draws giant chalk murals on the sidewalk. My friend works out three times a week or more. My friend loves olives and hates tomatoes.

Who are you thinking of as you read all this? Do they know you think of them this way?

Below, you’ll find a personal message from me to my friend. Again, I invite you to read it, and to consider the person, or people, you could say the same things to. Then I’d like you to go and do just that.

My friend,

There is a box in my heart where joy and wonder and love await the sound of your voice. It is not a box I built; it is a box you found and unlocked in the early days of our knowing each other. Thank you for opening me.

Thank you for sharing with me the strength and wisdom of your life. Thank you for teaching me how to share joy and wonder and love with others.

My friend, you embody so many of the qualities I seek. You know how to wield focus and effort to accomplish your goals. You study and struggle to understand the world and your place in it. You confront adversity continuously without becoming bitter. You think pragmatically without losing your sense of awe.

From you I am learning respect, understanding, humility, discipline and so much more.

My friend, when I was weak and tired, you laid me down to rest. When I was afraid and full of sorrow, you held my head while I cried. When I was trapped by fear and self-doubt, you spoke the words that set me free. Your spirit moves me as no other.

What I know of the meaning of the word joy, I learned from watching your smile.

What I know of the meaning of the word wonder, I learned from hearing your voice.

What I know of the meaning of the word love, I learned from holding your hand.

My friend, Michelle Sargent, is the love of my life, and I will never be able to express how thankful I am for that.

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