This post is for a dearly beloved friend of mine. She knows who she is, but sometimes she doesn’t know that she is beautiful.

Not sexy or glamorous or attractive. I mean beautiful. In her soul.

I first met this young woman in science class at high school. I had come fresh out of Catholic primary school, where I had become accustomed to being different from other children, and I had prepared myself for several more years of the same. But this young woman made me laugh. She cracked jokes, she talked to me, she liked me for who I was.

She shared her chips with me at lunchtime.

She watched the magpies with me.

We were in special maths class together.

Even when I moved away to the other side of the world, and we gradually grew up, I still felt like this young woman was a beautiful person in my life. At times in my adolescence when I childishly hated everyone and everything around me I could never hate her, because all she radiated was friendliness and warmth. Her messages to me made, and still make, me feel like a valid human being, because she writes with honesty and with a passion for what she believes in.

This young woman’s life has by no means been perfect. Like us all, and perhaps more than her fair share, she has carried the burdens of sadness and sorrow on her back for many years. There have been people whom she has loved more than they deserved, people who have hurt her, people who have angered her with their complacency about the injustice in the world. There are certain demons that plague her, and she fights hard to overcome them. Through all this, although it is painful, she soldiers on.

I have never told her this, but this young woman has always reminded me of sunflowers. Sunflowers are big, and bright yellow, like the sun, their outsides are happy and joyous and they cannot help but spread a smile across the face of those that see them. Their insides, though, are darker, they conceal sadness and thoughtfulness about the world, but they are also deep. There is much inside them that we cannot see. Sunflowers, like this young woman’s life, remind me of hope, of hope at times and in places where you would not expect it.

I just want to say I love you, whoever you are. And I want you to know that I still read your messages, when you post them, and your honesty and passion for the world make me feel content that I know you, and that I have a friend whose soul is so beautiful.

Dearly beloved friend, whatever happens, never stop shining your light…

I wish more people in the world were like you.