You were there when I was 5 and afraid to go to school. You waited with me at the end of the driveway for the school bus and told me to smell the flowers and blow the bubbles to calm my tears. You were there when I would fall down and scrape my knee. You would reach out for me, prepared for my crying. When I stood up, brushed myself off, and continued to run around, you smiled and shook your head.
You were there when I was up in the middle of the night with a very bad cough. You told me never to worry about waking you up, and that you would always be by my side when I didn't feel well. You were there to teach me big hugs, big smiles, and big thank-yous. You were there for every concert, every game, and every ceremony.
As I leave home, I realize that as big of a deal as this is for me, it is a milestone for you as well. These past few years, I have challenged and tested you. I was trapped in my own struggles and I took them out on you. I told you I was misunderstood, to see what you could understand. I told you I didn't care, so I could see you'd still be there. You didn't recognize me, but you stuck around because my mother knew I was still in there somewhere.
You recognized my accomplishments, big and small, and always had a way to express your pride. As you supported my independence, you watched me fall down, make mistakes, and try to handle everything on my own. You still stood by, ready to pick me up when I needed you.
You made sure I was happy at home and supported in school. You did so much, but you still questioned how much more you could do. I grew up these past few years, and I grew up fast. As I fought my anxieties and my inner demons, a part of me knew I wasn't truly in this alone. You gave me confidence, hope, and reminded me where I am going.
I rode the roller coaster that seemed to be controlled by life itself. It took time before I was able to realize how much control I had over that roller coaster. Then I was able to lift myself up again. I thank you for staying by me and believing in me, even when I have doubted myself.
I leave so soon, but I hardly feel I am leaving anything at all. No school, no move, no separation can break our bond. I have a built-in best friend, cheerleader, and my own personal sunshine all within my mother.
Because of you, I know I'll be OK. Because of you, I know that struggles are temporary, change can be absolutely amazing, and no separation can end love.
I write to you out of reassurance that this is not the end. Giggles, hugs, silly car rides, obnoxious singing, and kitchen dancing are not disappearing.
To my sunshine, my only sunshine, thank you for giving me the world. This is just the beginning.
Your daughter and forever friend.