I considered opening this letter with "Dear Sarah Jane," but I've always felt it strange to address a letter "dear" to someone you've never met. But really... you were dear. You were precious and wonderful to us all, and good god am I going to miss you!
My history with you is a little convoluted. I first ran into you in 2007, when you were just a lonely woman missing the past she was forced to leave behind. But something about you intrigued me. I wanted to know just what it was you'd shared with the Doctor that was so special that you both still cared so much so many years later. And so I looked back. I got to know you. At first, I wasn't too impressed. You were a charming young woman and a loyal friend, but at first I didn't look beyond that. Somewhere along the road, though... my opinion changed. When was it? When did I first realize just how special you really were? I never really knew. It was a gradual change in perspective that was over and done before I even realized it has begun.
So no, you weren't my first, and you weren't my favorite. But I doubt there's anyone alive who would argue that you were the greatest. You changed what it meant to travel with the Doctor. You were brave and rational and kind and you weren't afraid to call a spade a spade. You were smart and classy and even when you were terrified, you would never hesitate to take the Doctor's hand and dive into some new danger. And even after he was long gone from your life, you were still there, fighting the good fight and trying to protect the Earth as best you could.
You were my hero, in so many ways. You were the reason I wanted to be a journalist. You'll never know it, but you inspired me. You made me want to be better than I was and showed me how. You were always willing to open your heart to those who needed it, and in doing so, you taught me how to do so as well.
Yesterday, we lost you. And you might never know it, but you touched and changed the lives of so many people. I wasn't one of those fortunate enough to grow up knowing you, but you changed me, too. We will always love you, and we will always miss you. And Sarah? We will never, never forget you.
Sarah Jane Smith, you're a star.