Sounds like the headline of a story in The Enquirer that should have a subtitle of, “And she stole all of my stuff, poisoned my dog, and ran off with the mailman!” Doesn’t it?
But seriously, we did. Two weeks ago, a smart, complex, funny young lady came to live with our family. I “met” her two years ago when she emailed me a letter about stigma and I asked her if I could post it here as a guest blog post. That post got a lot of attention, even the attention of bestselling author Pete Earley, who contacted me, sure I was a hoaxer who wrote the post myself pretending to be a teenage girl. After he and I both talked to her mother, we were shocked, amazed, and impressed that a 15 year old girl could have the insight and ability of expression that she did. That she does. And over the last few years, we have kept in close contact, moving from email communications to Facebook to phone. When her mother died last February, I was on a plane 18 hours later, without any sort of rational plan on how to explain to her relatives that some middle-aged stranger from the Internet was flying in to be there to support a 16-year-old. To their credit they gave me a chance and the opportunity to be there to support her.
We continued to be involved in each other’s lives, albeit from a distance after that. She had been away at college (yes, at 16) when her mom died, but that proved to be unsustainable for many reasons, and she moved back to her hometown, floating from one sub-optimal living situation to another through Summer and Fall. At Thanksgiving she came to us for a visit and we got a first-hand account of just how sub-optimal it truly was. It took less than 10 minutes of conversation for Tom and I to agree. We gave her another option. She could come live with us and our family. So, two weeks ago, she came. She’s got her own room since Wonderboy, now 22, moved out before Halloween. Tim and The Girl are thrilled to have a “little” sister. She’s taking classes at our local community college, and our standard poodle, Chloe, thinks she’s the perfect pillow to sleep on at night. And, with the publishing of this blog post, the assimilation into our strange little family is complete.
We affectionately refer to her as “The Bonus Kid.” Now we have four. I think a more appropriate subtitle for this story would be, “and this smart, complex, funny young lady will make all our lives the richer for it.”