Today is an emotional day. It always is.
If you're from my hometown, you don't need a reminder of what happened nine years ago on December 1, 2012.
If you're not from my hometown, and you have no idea what I'm talking about, just know that we lost two incredible young people on a night that blew up my entire world and affected the lives of so many people I care about.
It's a day I think about all of the time.
I wish it never happened. I wish Deanna were still here. I wish she could text me and tell me how much she loves me, or send me another comforting message after a less-than-ideal performance in a high school basketball game.
She was my biggest fan, my most loyal supporter, the one I turned to when I had any self-doubt or needed some advice.
And I miss her.
I try to remember the way she smelled. The way she said my name. The way she passionately stepped in when others bullied me. The way she snorted when she threw her head back in laughter.
But as the years go by, those memories of Deanna become more fragmented. I have to work that much harder to assemble the pieces.
And that's the hardest part about today.
December 1 reminds me that I'm losing my grip on my memories of our beautiful friendship. And then I feel bad about it. How could I possibly forget the person that, even though she's no longer with us, impacts my life every day?
I have to remind myself that it's the natural course of life. That physical memories become harder to channel as we get older. That's just how it is. I've accepted it.
But I'll never forget the lessons she taught me before and after she left us.
When we were friends, she showed me loyalty. She showed me selflessness. She showed me love.
After December 1, 2012, she taught me to say hi to random people. She taught me to squeeze the most out of every day we have here. She taught me that when you love with all your heart, life becomes one big smile. She taught me to never find yourself on bad terms with someone you really care about, because you might never get the chance to talk to that person again.
Everything I am today, I owe to her.
And I will continue dedicating every success of mine to her, because she's really the driving force behind it all.
Her picture lays by my bedside every night. It's traveled with me everywhere -- UAlbany, Cooperstown, Scotland, Connecticut, Colorado, Arizona, and now New Hampshire.
So even though she's gone, I know she'll never leave.
I love you DeeDee. Thank you for everything.