Over the span of a few weeks, I came to trust Tanya with my deepest, most shameful feelings. She worked with me through my negativity, my shame, my embarrassment, and my most troubled times as a teenager. She helped me see the light at the end of the sadness tunnel. And there was a smile of pride on her face when she realized I was making progress. 

Tanya never allowed me to walk alone again. When everyone else turned their backs on me or walked away, Tanya was my constant in a changing world. She was still there for me after my high school graduation and into my early 20s. She shared my highest of highs and my biggest successes. When I would come home for a weekend from university, I always seemed to bump into her and tell her all about my exciting university adventures. When I met the man of my dreams in my mid-twenties, Tanya was genuinely happy for me when I announced that I was getting married and, of course, I sent her an invitation. She was also there for me when I got pregnant and had my son. Tanya has always been there for me, helping me along the way, keeping me positive, and handing out words of wisdom and encouragement that no one else would. 

Through everything, I’d always make sure to give her the credit she deserved. Because of her, this life was possible. Even though I felt that I owed her my life, she never asked for anything in return. Through my happiness and my joy in life, I am still paying her back for all the wonderful gifts she’s given to me over the years. 

And she is still giving me those gifts in small ways as well. She still calls me “courageous” on a regular basis. This gives me strength still to get through every day because I believe her. 

Not only has she affected my life in such a positive way, her spirit has now filtered down to another generation. She made a surprise visit to my sons classroom just a few weeks ago to stop in and say hello to my boy and make him feel as special as she made me feel all those years ago. She has touched two generations in my life and made me realize that life is good when it includes amazing people. 

Tanya is a special soul. Her heart is sincere and her care and concern are genuine. I’ve never questioned her because she’s never given me a reason to. She means every word she says and her smile is still as infectious as it was 25 years ago.

Yes, it’s been 25 years. When I talked to her last week, we did the math and realized that we’ve known each other for over 25 years. My milestone birthday is coming up soon and she has just recently retired. It’s a remarkable time to be each of us. Our lives are changing again and we are still as close as we can possibly be.  

I can’t ever imagine what my life would have been like without her in it. For this, I am eternally grateful. 


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