I've begun this post over and over again in my head since last Thursday and can't come up with a good way to begin, so I'll just begin at the beginning.

Allegra has been a part of our family almost since the day we moved to Fayetteville eleven years ago. Meghan was 11 years old and just about to begin middle school. She had left all her friends behind in Virginia, and I'm sure she was pretty terrified when that first day of 6th grade rolled around and she began Holt Middle School, walking into an environment where the majority of the kids already knew each other. When I picked her up that afternoon and asked if she met anyone, she said that at lunch this girl with long dark curly hair sat down across from her and shyly asked if Meg wanted an extra pencil eraser that she had in her lunchbox. Meghan said yes and they quietly ate their lunches and talked a little. Meghan couldn't remember the girl's name but said it had something to do with music. 

On the car ride home the next day, Meghan said she remembered the dark haired girl's name and that it was Allegra and, as they say, the world hasn't been the same since.

Meghan and Allegra. These two girls are the love of my life. Allegra's mother, Dana, is one of my very best friends and together we have seen our girls through the drama of middle school and high school, boyfriends and break ups, dances and proms, soccer games and band concerts. We helped them move into their college dorm room where we both cried as we left to go back to our cars. 

I know this sounds cliched, but words can't express what this child means to not just me, but also to David and Joe, who look upon her as another daughter and big sister. Allegra is the most caring, generous, hilarious, quiet, wise, zany, loyal, trusting and beautiful person. She also gives amazing hugs. She's graduating this Friday from the University of Arkansas with a degree in theatre and plans on heading out to Los Angeles in early August to attend graduate school at the prestigious acting school, Stella Adler Academy.   I'm already counting the days till her first break and she comes back home for a visit.

Last Thursday evening, I got to take Ali's senior pictures and spend some wonderful one-on-one time with this beautiful girl. Thank you for letting me play with you, and I love you, Ali G!