May 20th, 2013
As the first Graduating Class of Central High School of Clay County made their entrance into a packed gymnasium of family and friends Friday night, there were cheers, applause, and tears. It was history in the making…
Her long, beautiful mane of golden, blonde hair was easy to spot among the sea of navy gowns, and a small smile formed at the sight of her as the threat of tears began to blur my vision. It was a bittersweet moment for me. I had already had the honor of seeing my two daughters graduate and had thought that part of my life was over. It’s funny how God works sometimes…
The first time I laid eyes on Brianna Andrews, she was a adorable little five year old with big baby blue eyes, and cute little dimples that showed when she smiled a toothless grin. She was such a precocious child, as she had already named herself the lady of the house, taking fierce care of her little brother, Michael, and her daddy.
At three years old, Michael’s speech was hard to understand, because of the missing front teeth from an “unfortunate” Superman incident, but Brianna could tell you every word he was saying. She could also tell you everything her daddy was thinking at any given time, because his moods could be hard to read sometimes. She loved them both with everything this little doll had in her. It was very refreshing, yet could get testy at times too.
For example, when Michael would get into trouble, which was frequently, she could not bear to see him get a spanking. She would cry when he would cry, and beg her daddy to stop. When she was in the 3rd grade, Brianna learned about calling 911 after having a police officer visit their class and speak to them about all of the dangers that can befall a child. That same night, Michael got in trouble and her daddy had to take a belt to him. Brianna cried and begged him to stop, saying she was going to call 911 if he didn’t.. Her daddy wasn’t very thrilled about it, but I had to leave the house because laughter would not have been welcomed at this point.
Brianna very rarely had to be punished, she knew when she did wrong and she would literally take her own course of action in this field. For instance, if she made bad grades, she would go to bed without dinner or retreat to her room without being told if she had done wrong. Apologies weren’t easy for her, so at times she would write you a special “I’m Sorry” letter that would always end with “ I Love You”. These letters would mysteriously appear under your pillow or on your desk. I know, because I still have several of them. She didn’t share her feelings with you much, but she would always ask about yours.
To say she was a daddy’s girl would be putting it mildly…and still is. She was perfectly content to spend a quiet day with him, versus staying at a friend’s house. She loved going places with him, even if it was just to the store and back. If he was in a good mood, she was in as well. If he hurt, she did too. Her empathy skills in this area were amazing. I know it is not uncommon for children to worship their father, but he remains her hero today even still.
I have had the privilege of watching this sweet girl grow into an even more beautiful young woman with an extremely bright future ahead of her. I had never intended on becoming a stepmother, but I think God knew I needed something a little extra special in my life.
I’m not going to sit here and say we didn’t have any problems, because that would be a lie. Being a stepmother is hard, for there are invisible boundaries there that cannot be crossed without some repercussions. But I was fortunate in that area, because I always had the support of my husband, Brian to enforce any rules I laid down. But not once did I ever hear “ You’re not my mother” from either one of them, a very common retort from stepchildren.
As I watched her exit the gym floor on her special night as a 2013 CHSCC Graduate, diploma in hand, those beautiful baby blues still sparkling and dimples showing from ear to ear, my pride for her overwhelmed me and I thanked God for allowing me to be a part of her life.
She left us on Sunday, her car loaded down with boxes, as she begins a second chapter in her life, a journey that is as exciting to her as it is scary. She never looked back as I hugged her bye, because I knew she was too emotional at that point. She will still come to visit as much as she can, but not as much as she would like. She says she will come back one day to pursue her career as a paramedic. I’m holding her to that….
“ It’s Not Good-bye… It’s I’ll See You Later”