She is more like a niece than a cousin to me. I’ve watched her grow up alongside my own child, my other nieces and nephews. I’ve seen her become a big sister, twice. I keep passing her on the road, driving. I heard her discussing her college plans this past weekend. And I’m just the tiniest bit in shock. 16. That’s a little unfathomable.

She is incredibly intelligent, well read – but not condescending. She is witty, but not obnoxious. She is beautiful, but not vain or obsessed with her appearance. She is grounded, but not without wonder. She is kind and helpful and polite and too many wonderful things to remember them all. 

I’m so proud of the young woman that you are, Anna. You have already made the world a better place, just by being in it. I love you so much and hope you had a wonderful, special day.