I have to tell you one thing I heard repeatedly that night. Katie's friends took me aside, one by one, at some point. Each told me that she or he never knew Katie had so many friends - each told me that she thought she was Katie's "best friend" and that now each realized that she WAS Katie's best friend - that Katie had more than one best friend and could make each of them feel special. Katie was sincere about that. Anyone who was her friend knows that her friendship did not come easy, but if and when it came it was lifelong and very special.
Katie recognized in her best friends a piece of herself - a piece she needed to become whole. Her best friends recognize in Katie a piece of themselves - a piece they need to be whole. That's what true friendship (best friends) is all about - making each other whole. You can't do that with "just friends", it has to be "best friends".
Katie's best friends were there, some in person, some in spirit. They shared and I believe went home more complete, more whole, from learning about each other and their link to each other through their best friend, Katie.
Maybe this is just Katie's mom rambling, but in addition to the replicas of awards and conversations with FIU staff, that's what I have taken home with me from the FIU Alumni event - the experience of best friends in the making.