Dear Laura

Dear Laura,
You matter to me. You matter to me probably more than you realize. I know we joke around a lot and we join forces in bugging your daughter, but you mean more to me than just that. Our bond is deeper, for we appreciate the love we both have for your daughter and all that it entails.
Five and a half years ago my family was in turmoil. It was the first time that there had ever been such disjointedness between me and my parents. In an act of stubbornness and fear and discomfort, my parents forbade my sister to bring her girlfriend to our family's home for our annual Easter brunch. I had only ever spent one Easter apart from my family, and it was when I was traveling in Europe, so this was a big deal. I told my sister I would go wherever she went, and truthfully I was so hurt by my parents' ultimatum that I didn't really want to go to their house anyway. So Lindsay told you the circumstances, and asked you if the four of us (me, my sister, her girlfriend, and her daughter) could join you and your family for Easter. You and Alaine were friends already, but my sister Vanessa and I didn't know you that well at the time. In retrospect, it was kind of the beginning of getting to know you better. And now that I do know you, I know that you would have opened your arms to us no matter what the circumstances. All Lindsay would have to do is ask, and you would feed, shelter, or hug whomever. Your heart does not recognize barriers, or closed doors, nor does it discriminate.
So we spent Easter with you and your family, and you welcomed us like we were your own. We talked about discrimination, and fears, and family, and we shared stories and laughs and food. I had been so nervous about that day, and so worried that an Easter without the family was going to damage me more than I was prepared. But it turned out that even though I missed my parents, I was surrounded by family, and by love.
And here we are, almost six years later, and even with all of the relationship changes and the ups and downs and the moves, we are family. I have told you before how grateful I am for the wonderful daughter you loved and raised. I won't get into that tonight; that's another letter for another time. Suffice it to say that there are so many reasons that I am thankful for you and your life. But tonight I want to thank you for your heart, your big, beautiful heart that beats for every person you meet and touch. Thank you, and I love you.