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The other day I woke up to a text from one of my favorite people. One that there isn't much I wouldn't do for. And although this request made me equal parts honored and terrified, there was never any doubt that I'd say anything but yes.

Which meant I had a speech to write....becasue she was getting married...and I quickly agreed to do the toast.

This was their big day and I did not want to screw it up or disappoint so I looked online for tips, I asked for suggestions and feedback and the best advice I found was here:
The art of a wedding toast

Unfortunately #3 on the list of things NOT to do was pretty much my whole game plan. I mean, I'm pretty sure the last day of camp slideshow with Micheal W. Smith playing in the background would have made everyone break out their cute little packs of kleenexes.

Encouraged by some Chardonnay..I went off script a bit....but this is mostly what I said.

One of the last nights of her term....little Karly (about 12 or 13 with thick double French braids and the exact same smirk she has now) showed up at my bunk looking like someone had just run over her puppy.....just as I was drifting off to sleep.  She was sad, I was tired….but I did my best to try and diagnose the issue. Often in these situations (….cousenling tween girls)…it is something REALLY serious and Earth shattering ….like learning that a guy from N’Sync had a girlfriend (or boyfriend) or a friend spoiled the ending of whatever Harry Potter book had just come out….. Instead she spit out that all her friends were moving up to the next dorm and that next summer she’d be stuck here alone.  And by alone, she meant across the hall.
It seemed kind of silly at the time. She admitted years later than she was just made up an excuse to talk to me that night. She just wanted to be close. Heard.  Getting to hang out on a counselor’s bed past lights out was the sign of favoritism. Letting her stay…meant…to her and everyone else in that dorm that I liked her the best. (i did, just don't tell anyone).

I am almost 36 and I still do the exact same. Sometimes I  need to be heard.  Cared for. And valued and I still think I need an excuse. A reason. That I can’t just show up and ask for it. I still want people to like me the best. And to not need a reason to call, chat or just be loved.
I have been married for over a dozen years….and this is one of my favorite parts of marriage.  I might have to ask him to take the trash out, or empty the dishwasher…but I don’t have to have a reason for a little extra attention. I always have someone to love me the best. Even if I occasionally have to remind him of it!

One of my favorite memories of Laura….was down by the lake on the last day of camp.  She was sobbing a big ridiculous ugly cry as she said her goodbyes for the summer. Like the kind where your face gets all puffy, snot runs down your chin and you have a headache for the rest of the day.
I remember watching the scene play out with an ache in my heart but completely dry eyes….thinking….she should really wipe her nose…but also that I wanted to love like that. With that kind of passion. Knowing that there will be a last day at the end of July and not holding back anyways. That kind of willingness to be hurt or lost or broken.
Marriage means that too. Loving wild and recklessly without a safety net. Even when there are risks and complications.
And I know beyond a doubt that she loves Karly just like that.
These two girls ….taught me as teenagers….to love with my whole heart.
To not hold back.
To not need an excuse.
To be present.
To tell people that you love them the best.
To be passionate and willing and all in.

These girls aren’t teenagers any more…
And well, neither am I.
But they are still teaching me things.
Like the art of making the perfect mix cd.
How to get dance tights on a 5 year old without tears. Mine or my daughters. How to wake surf. Or at least try. How to light a cigarette.  What really happens during those triatholon races….  How to finish the race.
Some dance moves…that maybe after I have a few drinks I will let you see. I’m not as professionally trained as some of you….but get ready to take some notes….or at least have a good laugh.  I’m pretty sure my running man is better than yours.

But more importantly how to be a good mom.
How to be brave.
To take risks.
To listen to your heart when it is too loud to ignore.
Even all the way across  the country.

I have watched these teenagers become women that I admire and am proud to know.
I’ve watched them grow up. And I’ve watched them grow together.
I know that they will love each other wildly, protectively and passionately.
But I also know that I will love better for getting to be part of their love story.
I will also love more wildly and protectively and passionately.
Because of the teenagers who taught me how.
And these crazy bad ass women who keep reminding me what that looks like.

And then I proceeded to dance my face headdress off and eat four pieces of pie.
Best of luck KP and LL.
maybe just maybe some friends really are forever. (cue Micheal W Smith and some tissues)


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