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That special adult friend was, for me, my great-grandmother. It has taken me all these years (she died when I was 8) to realize this: In spite of all my mother's attempts to prevent me from forming strong connections to the people in my life, my great-grandmother was an exception. We loved each other with great joy and the few years I had with her have been that shining star when the sky is darkest.

I owe her more than I could ever say. When I help someone else, when I connect with a child or adult to bring a little light for them, my great-grandmother is standing there beside me, all 4-foot 11-inches of her. I owe her an eternal debt of gratitude. I love her and miss her still.

Thanks to her, I survived and grew strong. I surely couldn't have done it alone. Tack så mycket, Gram.

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