13 years ago, she walked into the room, said hello, sat on my lap and handed me a book to read her. It’s a moment that I will never forget. That is when I met Gabbie. I had been dating her dad and this was my first meet with his children. I remember it perfectly, she had a curiosity, a confidence and a determination that intrigued me then, and inspires me now. This was the beginning of a life change for me. Gabbie’s dad and I became neighbors. I knew each morning, to start my day by unlocking my front door so that while most people still slept, 6-year-old Gabby could come over and dig into making things happen. She would walk up to my office and without fail, ask, “what can I sort for you?” I looked forward to those quiet times as she would organize papers (that I would mess up before she came, to ensure she would have a task to keep her by my side) – just me and her, with peaceful acceptance of each other.
Eventually, Gabbie’s dad and I blended families and for 10 years I traveled with this girl and her sisters, through intense challenges such as sick family members, the politics of blending a family and in there we made a lot of magic. When Gabbie’s dad and I went our separate ways, Gabbie and I had the opportunity to redefine our relationship. Logistically, some things changed, but our hearts didn’t. So, Gabbie is still mine, and I am still hers – what that means is up to us, and can flow as we need it to because we continue to choose each other. It is hard to write about this kid graduating because the emotions have some uncomfortable edges. See, this kid.. she has done more than most of us. She has dug in, in ways I wish she didn’t have to. She has seen and experienced things that should only happen in movies.
I just don’t know if she knows how much she means to me. How she is such a blessing, to me and my daughter, how grateful I am for her, for rumbling with us, loving us through the messes, committing to accepting each other and being family, thank you for laughing, for your effort – actually, effort you put into almost everything you do is outstanding.
So today she graduates. I am so proud of her. Not just because of her amazing marks, but because she is just a beautiful person. She see’s others, and she is learning deep level self care, she is funny and she is honest. Her values are so solid and her work ethic is one with wisdom and incredible drive. If you have had the opportunity to know her, you know that she is a wonder.
Today is just one milestone of many, but one that certainly deserves some celebration. I love you Gabbie.