Back in my “old life” as I used to call it, before my career pivot out of the music business and being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, I spent close to 10 years working for singer Lee Ann Womack. When you have that job, that is your life. You become family, all the highs and lows that entails…late nights, tears, laughs, and watching kids grow up.

I met Lee Ann’s eldest daughter, Aubrie, when she was 10 or so, and I was 20 or 21. It was 1999, I believe. I very vividly remember sitting down with her for the first time and her explaining to me the ins and outs of the movie Good Burger. I knew from those early meetings that she was a special kid…smart, funny, mindful, humble, and there’s nothing more she loved doing than reading a good book in her own world. As she grew up, I did too, navigating the insane weirdness that is your 20’s while she had to endure the even more horrible time that is your teens. She never wanted too much to do with me, as I was that strange parental figure in her life who will NEVER be cool to hang out with when you’re 14, but I didn’t care much about that. She was special, talented, and I was privileged to watch her grow up and be a tiny part of that journey.

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When she was about 14, she and I lived in Los Angeles for either a month or six weeks (fuzzy life details!), while she attended the Lee Strasberg program for young actors. At the end of the program, she and her fellow classmates put on a production for family and friends. I distinctly remember thinking, “oh yay! A kids play!” Well, joke’s on me, because I was BLOWN AWAY at just how talented Aubrie was. I should’ve known, she was a special kid, and this was no different.

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Now, Aubrie is 23, and I’m 35. We are 12 years and a day apart. I always loved that our birthdays were back to back, as it was this one little life milestone to be shared. This week, her insane talents as a singer landed her in a piece in Esquire Magazine. The world is starting to be introduced to her talents, the ones that I’ve been privy to in our own little corner for a decade now. I’m sure 10 years down the line I’ll vividly remember the night she came over to my house to play me the first album she recorded. As I got more and more tipsy on Fernet Branca, because that’s what you do when you listen to real, honest music, she nervously sat in the corner and tried to casually watch for my reaction. How does one convey pride? I’m not terribly sure, but that’s the overwhelming feeling I have as I watch her career take off from a distance.

I love you, kid. I’m proud to know you, and I know that your life is going to bring you all the things you’ve worked very hard for.