Fly on, fearless one!
Dear Sister – Today is your day! I can hardly believe it! We have dreamed about this day for a long time. Sweet 16 on your golden birthday. Looking back at all the old photos and recently a few family videos, you have always been something that I really admire: fearless. Some will chalk it up to being the third child behind two rough-n-tumble older brothers. Others will say it is because your dad refused to allow you to wear pink forever and a day. Even others might suggest the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. If they are talking about me, I say pish-posh! I may be tough, but I am definitely not fearless like your warrior daddy.
I think you are exactly the way God made you to be to look for those in the world who need to be loved, who need to be included, who need a friend, who need someone to speak up for them, and who need a safe place to land. Because in the last sixteen years, I have seen you do these things many different times. Fearless is a part of your DNA.
Watching the video where you ran out of your room, down the hall, through the kitchen and then slid through the dining room was just the icing on the cake of my fearless theory. You didn’t just show us your amazing stunt woman skills once or twice, but over and over. Even after you wiped out once, you got up, shook yourself off and showed us again. Fearless! Totally fearless!
Of course as your not-so-fearless momma, I have cringed more than once when your adventures have gotten you into scrapes (especially the time when you climbed the dog kennel fence, fell down, and had a pebble lodged in your nose until “it festered its way out”). For the record, it took more than a month before the rock came out and equally as long for the scab to go away.
But what I think very few people know about your fearless heart is that you are not afraid to go your own way, even when no one else is doing it. A quick look at the end of a basketball game, and you will see most of your teammates go and shake the referees’ hands. It wasn’t always that way, but you started doing it in the fourth grade and the trend caught on. Classy, trendsetting and fearless!
Bucking the norm, one year for Halloween, you created your very own superhero: Super Organ Donation Girl. Mostly you wanted to explain and honor the priceless gift your brother gave, but you never once batted an eyelash when adults asked you “What are you?” that evening. Not settling for being like everyone else, even if some people thought it was weird takes courage. And you, my fearless girl, have got that down!
But something about a fearless heart is that others don’t see all that goes on behind the scenes of life. Recently you did something that will forever take my breath away. Coming into the recovery room to finally see you after the agonizing wait during your most recent surgery, we knew the bad news. When we asked if you knew what had occurred, you told us you could see the clock and you knew from the long elapsed timeframe. I braced myself for tears and sadness (which, trust me, you had every right to express), but I could have never prepared myself for what actually happened. You looked me in the eye and asked if you could write your donor’s family a letter thanking them. Most people don’t even think of it, but you knew the gift and you wanted the family to know how much it meant. Your amazing, kind, loving heart wanted to give back even when you were at what some would consider a very low moment in your life. Brave and fearless!
Even though I am not as fearless as you are, one thing we do share in common is our love for children. I used to love to sit outside your bedroom when you played school and would use extra sheets from your own class, completing each page purposefully with mistakes. I would have to stifle my giggles when you would tell one of the dolly pupils “to go back and recheck number 5”. It was adorable and precious and a girl after your momma’s heart. Over the years, you have babysat as many children as you wear the number on your basketball jersey, and to see the love that radiated through them today says that your fearless heart touches the lives of others in immeasurable ways. A precious video wake-up message showed all the love in the world, especially when “Happy Birth-day Erin” was morphed into “Happy Erin”! Later, a specially tailored rendition of the birthday song from a favorite cutie had you grinning from ear to ear. Throughout the morning watching all the surprises for “Happy Birthday” planned as “Happy Mummy Day” because those little girls believe that you will grow up to be a great “mummy” someday . . . melted my heart. And you know what? I agree with them all one hundred percent. They love you, and so do I. Some day you will be a fabulous teacher and an amazing momma (mummy), and probably one who doesn’t let fear stand in her way. Just don’t be surprised one day when you see your daughter climbing the fence and letting go. But who knows? For one millisecond, she might fly just like her momma!
So we wish all these greetings today:
Happy Birthday, Sister!
Happy Golden Birthday (16 on the 16th)!
Happy Sweet 16!
Happy Mummy Day!
or my new personal favorite, Happy Erin!
Soar to great heights, my fearless girl, and don’t ever look back! Because if you do, I might be holding my breath, but know I am cheering you on every step of the way.
Special note: In lieu of birthday presents, Erin has asked for donations be made to one of her favorite charities. http://showhope.org/restore-hope/care-centers/diapers-for-orphans/ Wanting to serve in orphanages in Haiti, China, and some day Uganda – oh, the love my girl will leave in her path.