In 2010, I had just moved to South Carolina, looking for something other than what Rome, GA had to offer, and ultimately trying to start over. I met Beth, my wife, soon after being in town. Little did I know what was about to hit my life like a whirlwind and carry me away.
The first time I met my stepdaughter, Reagan, I absolutely fell in love. I didn’t know it yet, but I did. She was 3 years old and the smartest, most beautiful child I’ve ever seen. She had the biggest blue/green eyes, and a smile and laugh that made your heart melt, and soul happy. I didn’t think I could ever be taught what love was. I thought I was immune to it somehow. But Reagan captivated and intrigued me. She gave me something no one else has ever given me; hope. Hope that the future would be better than the past, and hope for myself as a person. She made me want to be better.
I’ve had the privilege to have Reagan in my life for almost 13 years now. And she has changed me more than I ever thought was possible. She is 16 now, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. She has accomplished so much, including making a parent out of me. I never wanted kids of my own. I always thought if I had kids somehow my trauma and damage would reflect onto them, and that’s the last thing I wanted. But Reagan changed me. She taught me what love actually is. She showed me how pure a soul could be, and that there is actual good in the world. Watching her grow up has been the single, best thing that’s happened in my life. I don’t know where I would be, or what my life would even be like if she wasn’t a part of it.
A lot of people like to bring attention to the fact I didn’t birth Reagan, or I’m not her “real” mom. And they’re right. I’m not. She doesn’t need another mom, she already has a wonderful mother. I never wanted to take her place. I just wanted to love her. I wanted to give her everything I didn’t have and more. All of the good things. I wanted her to go to Disney World and see all the beaches. I wanted her to not have one care in the world.
I learned that giving and receiving love is something you can’t force, or practice. It just is, or it isn’t. And for most of my life, I didn’t receive love very well at all. Reagan loved me so good, I didn’t even have to try to receive it. She demanded it. And for that, I’ll forever be grateful. With that being said, and since she had taught me so much about life, I want to leave her with these 10 things I want her to carry with her forever:
1.) Don’t ever settle for second best, because you deserve first place.
2.) If they wanted to, they would. Simple as that.
3.) Never silence yourself to make others happy; because your voice is just as important as anyone else.
4.) You are the only YOU in this world. The world needs you. Don’t change yourself for anyone.
5.) Bad choices and mistakes are inevitable. It’s all about how you recover and get back up.
6.) Always stand up for what is right even if you are the only one in the room standing.
7.) You are never too old for Dr. Seuss’s Fox in Sox
8.) Your weaknesses do not define you. You are stronger and more powerful than you think.
9.) You are enough. Every day, every hour, and every single minute, you are enough.
10.) You is kind, you is smart, you is important!
Reagan, it’s not realistic to assume everything in life will go your way. You have be willing to ride the waves, and find your way back to shore when the storms roll in. Storms make trees have deeper roots. Stay kind and don’t let anyone mess with your vibe. You are the most beautiful person, and I can’t wait to see where you go in this life. I love you Boo Bear forever and always♥️
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