Being a teenager is rough. Fitting in and being liked is something that everyone struggles with, even the “popular” kids. I hated this gorgeous field hockey chick for some ridiculous reasons I do not even recall. And she hated me. There was one day that we were forced to cross paths in the girls locker room at school. We were the only two people in there. She was crying, and I was crying. We saw each other and ended up in an embrace, and as it turns out, we were both crying over boys. From that day 22 years ago, we moved forward as best friends and haven’t looked back.

Sure, we have had periods of time where we lost touch, or we have not seen each other, or even long periods where we have wanted to connect but just have not been able to. But the same always remains true, we reconnect and we do so with such power and love, that it feels like no time has passed. She sees me, like really, really sees me. More than anyone else ever has, or I have even seen myself. I have always known the beautiful person that she truly is too. I do not mean beauty in the physical sense, but damn, she really is pretty too. I mean beauty in the sense of being an amazing force of a woman.

This woman has been through some shit in her life. I mean, we all have, but her stuff is like ‘holy shit’ kind of shit. Shit that people fall into a downward spiral and do not come out of kind of shit. But not her. Not this woman. This woman has done the complete opposite. She has taken that shit and used it as power. She has used it to dig deep inside her core, to find out who she truly is, what makes her happy, and what she wants for her life. She is literally my hero.

She has done what so many of us are afraid to do. She refuses to settle. She looks at life in a different way than most people I know. She challenges herself, steps out of her comfort zone, sees the true and raw beauty of everything. She loves so tremendously hard. She has this energy and vibe about her that you just want to be around her. She is so damn smart. She is wise beyond her years. I am in awe of her constantly.

One of the most amazing things about this woman is that she is a mama. A fierce, loving, kind, compassionate, in touch, fun, outgoing mama. When her first son was born, I swore I would never be able to love another human as much as I loved him. He has a hardcore look in his eye; like he totally gets life and is just going to rock it. Her daughter, she is this magical little ray of sunshine. She has this smile that just makes you feel like everything is going to be alright. The way she interacts with her kids makes me want to be a better mother. I admire every aspect of her mothering and turn to her often in my own moments of weakness.

Currently, we are both at a time in our lives that we are going to be leaning on each other, and at times leaning on each other hard. There is no one else I would rather do it with than her. The funny thing is, anyone that knows her probably thinks the exact same way that I do about her. She is that amazing. She deserves to be recognized as a hero, my hero.