Back then, I had no idea how a single person could touch my life or what it meant to truly be called a "best" friend. Julia became like the sister I never had and always wanted. She taught me more about life, patience, empathy, and leading others than I could have ever learned in a classroom. She inspired me to be a better person and to always see the best in others, even when I least wanted to do so.
Last Saturday, I had the privilege of being Julia's Matron of Honor at her wedding and watching her marry a wonderful man and the love of her life of over eleven years. After all the grieving over my aunt's passing, this moment became a welcome bright spot in my life. There is nothing quite like seeing two people madly in love make the commitment to each other for "all the days of their lives" and say yes to eternal love. It is always a joy and miracle to witness firsthand.
Why am I talking about Julia on my blog about teaching? It's quite simple. Like my Aunt Ellen, Julia has always been one of my greatest life teachers, someone who always guides me in the right direction and lends the kind of accepting ear when I need it the most. I consider myself blessed to have met Julia so early on in my life and even more grateful for the forever friendship we now share -- and always will cherish.
I recently told my students about Julia and how much she means to me. I asked them to think about who their true friends are and told them never to take any of them for granted. Even though they are only 14 years old, I think my students are beginning to see what really matters in friendships and the importance of seeking out others who bring out the best in themselves.
Moreover, Julia is an extremely talented children's book illustrator who has already experienced much success in her blossoming, beginning career. She is a gem to know and a brilliant artist. Please visit her website to see what she has published and what is forthcoming: http://www.juliadenos.com/.
Now, I would like to share with you some of the speech I wrote for Julia and shared at the wedding on Saturday: