Happy birthday, Amanda Beth

She would have been 32 today. This would have been the culmination of at least a week-long countdown, if not a month or longer. Her last birthday with us, Mandy decided not to mourn turning 30, but celebrate it. She celebrated all of the amazing accomplishments she had, from graduating with honors after being told she'd never go back to college after her traumatic brain injury to beating breast cancer for 5 years.

But she also celebrated all of us, her friends, naming our weddings, kids' births and more among her favorite things in 30 years. So, today, we still celebrate her.

Amanda Beth Menold loved to laugh. She loved to smile and that smile hung in her bright blue eyes (eyes you can see still in her family's eyes).

She was a cheerleader in practice in high school and college and later, in life, cheering all of us on.

Mandy loved trying new things. She traveled alone, made amazing friends, and tried almost anything once. Except high heels. She hated them. And, much to Jessie's, Melissa's and my dismay, wore her sneakers more often than not, no matter the venue (like Bourbon Street, I hear).

Family meant the world to her. She went through hell with them and they with her. And she desperately wanted her own. Were she here, maybe our babies would be friends. She would have been an amazing mom. I only hope I can be half the mom she wanted to be.

We used to have weekly dinners and then weekly yoga dates. There's a hole where she used to be in my life and I miss her terribly.

But she even said, "Even with the trials and tribulations I’ve gone through, I’m still a happy, go-lucky gal!" And I am trying to be the same.

So, happy birthday, Amanda Beth. I hope the party is hopping upstairs.