I’m reflecting on the past year and I can’t find the words. I have probably written about 20 versions of this letter and erased each one, unsatisfied that it does not convey the appreciation and gratitude that I feel in my heart. This past year has probably been one of the most difficult and trying years of my life, which if you’ve read anything I’ve ever written, may seem like quite the feat. But, I have also learned the most about myself and those I have chosen to surround myself with. So it is on that note that I write this today. To my friends, I am going to attempt to break this down in several ways, because I don’t want to leave anyone out and because I want to relay that NOTHING goes unnoticed or unappreciated. So I will write to a few of you each day, and in no particular order, just as it comes to mind. Today I’m starting with the three musketeers… Courtney, Brandi and Tania. I can honestly tell you that without your love and friendship I do not know what would have become of me this year. I think February/March was probably the absolute lowest I have ever felt and there was so much crumbling down around me that I did NOT have the strength on my own to keep pressing forward. The three of you rallied around me in a way that made me feel safe, made me feel cared about and valued. When others chose to exit my life, people I once called friends, you made me see that it was self serving and that there is so much more to be valued in TRUE friendship than just being the “good-time party friend” I was being used for. You made me feel that it was truly OKAY to be me, to have REAL feelings, to be angry, to grieve. I never once had to apologize for my thoughts, feelings or actions. You accepted and loved even my most vulnerable and never made me regret it. Brandi, you came running the morning I called you from the parking lot of the court house unable to speak, unable to get words out. You showed up at my door and you gave me all of your attention and strength and let me cry and scream without flinching. Courtney & Tania ….always ready to kick some ass for me. You were always there voicing EXACTLY what I was thinking, getting angry FOR me, showing me that it was OK to EXPECT absolute loyalty, that if I was hurt then YOU were hurt because you cared that much about me. Friends like you are one in a million (well, 3 in a million in this case). I will never be able to repay the debt I owe the three of you for standing by me in that time, not ever and I know that. You were the light in my darkness. You were the rock and the foundation on which I learned to stand again. You were there cheering me on when I finally found my voice and you never made me feel a moment of guilt. This year alone I saw my son off to the Air Force, his unexpected return when he became ill. You were there when the call came in and I was told his airman had passed away next to him, you were there to support me through my assault, my abusive relationship that I finally found the strength to pursue justice for myself, you were there as I struggled to come to terms with the scars and disfigurement that Eric left me with, you were there when I had surgery to put myself back together. You were with me for the good times, camping, birthdays, girls nights out, girls nights in, lunches, dinners and beyond. You were there when it all fell apart again and I had to have emergency surgery because something went wrong, when I wanted to run, frankly when I wanted to have the earth open up and swallow me whole because I did not know such a level of despair existed. You were there. And you were there to help me get my dog back, the thing you knew I loved and could not bear to lose…You were there. You ACCEPTED and allowed the entire gamut of emotions, good and bad without hesitation. My three musketeers. I can not repay the debt, but I can promise that you have my unwavering support, my unyielding loyalty and my unconditional love. I am thankful for you.