Three years ago, I married and was bestowed the title of "stepmother." I say title because the "children," three of them in fact, are not such children anymore. I had no hand in raising them, but nevertheless they have embraced me as a member of the family. For that I am blessed.
Casey, the youngest of the siblings and the only girl, is 20 years old and an inspiration in every sense of the word. Although her adult life is just beginning, I truly believe there is nothing she cannot accomplish. At her age, I was in the throws of what would become a nearly decade-long fight against major depression. I felt directionless and had no sense of who I truly was. Casey, on the other hand, is confident and self-assured. She wants to be a teacher, and I am envious of the kids who will be her students one day. She will change lives.
I chose this picture because it sums up all that Casey is. It was taken on a beach near Jenner on the Northern California coast. It was late fall and a storm was blowing in, so the sea was restless and violent. It was both exhilarating and scary to witness, and yet, there was Casey in the middle of it all blowing bubbles with the exuberance of a giddy child.
Has she known great tragedy? Not yet, and I pray that she can hold on to that innocence for as long as possible. But when that day comes she will have to summon every ounce of courage and strength she has just to breathe in the face of unbearable sorrow, I know she will rise up, stronger than ever. She will feel and grow and draw from her experiences to make the world a better place. Just look for the girl blowing bubbles.
I doubt she knows it, but she has changed me. By her actions, she reminds me that deep inside still lives a girl who wants to love and be loved, who believes in goodness and mercy, and who every once in a while opens her eyes long enough see the mind-blowing beauty that is all around her.