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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

List of thanks

Leeanne Leary
Class of 2017

(11/2014) I used to have a list, a list that I canít find anymore and wouldnít even know where to look to locate it. It was a part of a high school project and it was a list of people who I should write thank you letters to when I graduate. It was a hypothetical practice list and Iím not sure if we were ever meant to keep them, but I didóand then I never wrote those letters. Iím sure that my original list had more people on it than I can even remember now, and Iím positive that now that Iím two years out of high school, Iím thankful for different things than I thought of then. In fact, the list I would make now would be much different than the original. Now I would need to thank my coaches for seeing something in me that I never saw in myself, and the tough love that stemmed from them that I could never appreciate. I would have to thank the friends who taught me what friendship is and those who taught me what it isnít. I would add so many people that my hand starts to cramp just thinking about the letters I would write. I canít fit them all into this article, but hereís my attempt at a few thank you letters I never wrote.

First I would thank Ms. Beth Ann Brown, my coach, teacher, and yearbook advisor, who influenced my life more than she, or I, ever knew. I spent two years in and out of her classroom before I ever realized how important our relationship would be. During my junior year I began to spend more time with her and the yearbook editors, but during senior year, Ms. Brown was the reason I was able to keep my sanity. She built a safe place in her classroom that I still cannot recreate. At the end of my senior year and yearbook career, I did get to thank Ms. Brown a little bit in the yearbookís colophon. I thanked her for always believing in me and in the book, even when I didnít. But I didnít get to thank her for giving me a purpose all year, for keeping me sane with food, for telling me boys arenít that important when she saw me cry, for caring as much about the spacing between words in a headline as I did, for believing in my creativity when I really didnít have a plan, and for knowing when to take a break to watch Dance Moms. I never thanked her for not losing her mind on the same days I did, for taking me across the country, for all of the stories she promised to tell me when I graduate, for the looks on her face that told me what she thought, and for being the person I hope I can someday be. For all that and so much more, thank you.

Next I would thank Sarah, my best friend. There arenít words to express how thankful I am for her and for all she has been for me. She hasnít been my friend longer than anyone else and I canít say anymore that we talk the most of all my friends since weíre so far apart, but she came into my life when I was fifteen and has been everything I ever needed since then. Sarah, thank you for never leaving my side. Thank you for listening to me cry over boys, sports, shin pain, and everything in between. Thank you for never saying no to ice cream, for being a constant source of emotional support and for truly just being an incredible person. I look up to you in so many aspects of life and although I tell you every day how much I love you, I never tell you how thankful I am for you. Thank you for pushing me to be better, for constantly telling me that I deserve the best and for not giving up on me when I donít listen. Thank you for straightening my hair, lending me your clothes, and sharing your family with me. For being my best friend and sister, thank you.

I think the hardest thank you I need to write would be to my parents, who I thank for food all the time, but who I never really thank for being the best parents in the world. My mom knows how thankful I am for her, because sheís perfect. My dad, on the other hand, probably doesnít know. My dad is the reason I am who I am today. So, Dad, thank you for teaching me not to cry. Thank you for always being proud of me, because even when you donít say it, it means the world to me. Thank you for teaching me the meaning of tough love and making me strong. Thank you for always being rightóI bet you never thought you would hear that one. Thank you for never judging me or my choices out loud because I know thatís not easy. Thank you for teaching me to be independent, but still being there when I need youólike during tax season. Thank you for being selfless and caring, for teaching me the importance of intelligence, for teaching me how to ski and shoot, and for trying to understand field hockey. Thank you for building everything we ever wanted and for being my role model. You are the reason I love the water, the reason I can take criticism, the reason I have to get straight Aís, and the reason Iíll build a strong family one day. Thank you, Dad, because I know that "get out of my house" is code for "I love you."

There are a million other thank you letters I would have to write. I would thank Coach Williams for never taking me out of a field hockey game because she believed in me even when I didnít understand why, Matt Riggins for taking me to Haiti and changing my life and future, all of my friends for their never-ending love, Mrs. Fertenbaugh for telling me, "You are good enough," and being the reason I want to teach English, and a thousand other people for a thousand other reasons. I hope someday I can write thank you letters to all of these people, but for now, during the season of thanks, Iím going to make it a point to thank everyone who has an effect on me every day, from the lady who makes me breakfast in the morning to my friends who get me through the evening. Iíll start to say thank you as things happen, instead of waiting four years and trying to put my unexplainable feelings into a mess of words. For now, thank you to everyone in my lifeóeveryone who has said hi and brightened my day, everyone who has encouraged me to try something new or keep going, and everyone who makes me smile or shows me why I should. Thank you.

Read other articles by Leeanne Leary