I'm very fortunate to have a vocation that has me surrounded with girls, women and men of courage. When I have the chance to go out and interact with those we serve, I'm always impressed and often awestruck with the courage I see exhibited. Sometimes it is going off the platform to ride a zip line; other times it is not shrieking when you see a spider in your tent. The other day it was a girl trying a stand-up paddle board for the first time. All girls of courage, girls that moved out of their comfort zone to challenge themselves and try something new, and they are enriching their lives.
When I first arrived, I went around to the different properties. Early on I was asked to go up to Camp Sid Edmonds where there were issues with the ranger's residence. The trailer that ranger lived in was infested with ants. As someone from the Midwest, the ants of the South were a revelation and just unbelievable. I got to the trailer and met Christy, the ranger's daughter who was in her late teens and had a beautiful smile. The ants had managed to get into her feeding tube. I was horrified, but Christy smiled, unable to speak. She looked at me with her soulful eyes. I assured Jesse Malone, the ranger, I would do everything in my power to rectify the situation with the ants and improve what little I could for Christy's sake.
Fortunately the council had been in quest of grants to build the ranger a new home at Camp Sid Edmonds, so we built one overlooking the beautiful lake and got it away from the ants. Christy's situation was vastly improved by not being in the trailer.
Not long after they moved into the new house, Jesse and I had a conversation about putting a storm door on the front door of the house, as Christy spent most of her days on the couch looking out the door toward the lake. As a Midwesterner, we have storm doors on all exterior doors. We decided this would be a good improvement for her, since camp always has plenty of bugs. We added the door so she was able to look out summer, fall, winter and spring.
Last summer, Christy underwent some very serious surgery. She had grown enough that her back was pressing on her internal organs. Not one to respond to pain unless she was really miserable, she came through the surgery well.
Last week, Christy became gravely ill. Jesse called from the hospital telling us that the situation wasn't good. When she did rally, she still had those soulful eyes and that radiant smile, but she passed on Thursday night. When she was born, they told them she would not live past 12. Christy was 24, having lived more than twice as long as they said she would. I believe that is because she was a girl of courage. You cannot underestimate the love of her mother and family in her living much longer than anticipated. As they cope with her absence and loss, we can all learn from Christy. She met each day with a smile. You could see glee in her face when she was taken to the Scott House or put on the front porch to enjoy the outdoors. We will plant a tree in honor of Christy, for a life well lived and for someone who met each day with joy and a smile.