Happy Birthday, Tara

The best gift that I ever got
Didn’t really cost a lot
Didn’t have a ribbon ’round
And sometimes made a terrible sound

When you had surgery in January and I sat with you in the low lights of the hospital room as you recovered, I was struck with a deja vu so strong it nearly knocked the wind from me.  There you were, my baby – grown, but fragile, capable and strong, yet set back and breakable.  But I also saw myself….

  Tara at 4

I was taken back in my memory to Broadway Methodist in Merrillville, Indiana 31 years ago, to me in a hospital bed, a brand new mommy/so young – having just delivered this mysterious bundle of blond joy.  It was after dark, the room lights were low then too, and I was getting acquainted with you for the first time.  I looked at that perfectly round, tiny head and the gentle slow movement of your eyes daring to open and look up at me.  With great reservation I examined your hands and the contour of you, absolutely terrified to unwrap you and soak in the whole of you.   I had been afraid to intrude.

But the connection I felt was beyond anything I had ever experienced. The  intensity of emotion, as I’d approached labor with gritted teeth, determined to control my “situation” and handle it without “bothering anyone,” suddenly became stronger than my organized plans.  When the labor room nurses scolded me for not letting them know how close I was to birth, for not arriving sooner (for I’d only at the hospital for 30 minutes and had nonchalantly received the hospital gown and instructions as if I had all day), I wondered why they couldn’t understand that I was alone, that I’d been pregnant alone, that I would birth alone and somehow in silence, I would make my own wrongs right…all alone.  Understand, of course, that my skewed understanding was that of a teenage girl who did not understand that I’d never been left, never forsaken.

But then one, two, and barely 3 pushes and there you were – the girl I secretly hoped for, but had never allowed myself to believe I’d get.  You were perfect and pink and easy.  And they plopped you on me like a basket of laundry and you barely made a sound, though transcendance thundered through my body and I trembled with awe.

The best gift that I’ve ever known
I’ve always wanted most to own
Yet in my dreams of sugar and spice
I never thought it could be so nice

But later, in that room,  just us two, I knew that you were mine, a gift straight from God.  “I don’t know you yet, but I know I love you,” I whispered, wondering who you’d be and if you could ever love me back.  Yet, even then, in the dim light, when you looked at me, I sensed that already, this baby, this gift from God for me in spite of myself, already understood and was joined to my heart.  The deep communion of that perfect night between you, me and God, {deep breath} ~ I was certain I could read your heart and you mine, as if we were communicating on some empathetic plane.  I truly believe He was there, our Father, in that room, sealing our relationship, blessing our future.  And I knew I was no longer alone, however self-exiled I’d been.

The best gift I could ever get
Was sometimes dry and sometimes wet
Was usually pink, but oftentimes red
As she lay so innocently in her bed

Mercy was rewriting my life that night in a way I had no words to express.  The gift of God, eternal and true was being visited upon me in the most humbling way possible.  For the merciful gift of this baby girl who would become to me my joy, my very own proof of the amazing grace and endless love of the Father for me, to me and through me ~ left me speechless.  I needed mercy.  And through you, my sweet Tara, I have found it again and again.


And here is what I knew in January after your surgery and what I know every day and everytime I am around you: You are one of the most incredible human beings on the planet, a woman I admire and love beyond belief.  You are grace and mercy and joy.  And I am so pleased to call you mine.

The best gift of the year to me
The one I hold most dear to me
The gift that simply drove me wild
Was my tiny, newborn child.*

Happy Birthday, Tara.  Mercy and joy, grace and peace back to you, my gracious gift of God.

*LYRICS: The Best Gift by Barbra Streisand.  Bill Tull and Mary Tiller sang this at your dedication service June 1979, as suggested by Bill.  I’d never actually heard it before then (from one of her early Christmas albums), but it was true of you.  Still is.

5 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Tara

  1. Happy birthday my sweet, sweet sister. I pray that your day was blessed and refreshing and you got some much needed and deserved rest! I am so thankful for you and for our bond, not only as sisters, but as friends. Thank-you for always making sure us girls get some time to hang out, even when life gets busy…and thanks for being my best Taiwan buddy:) I can’t wait to take hundreds more trips with you and grow up together, I aspire to be like you. I love you!

  2. Awww. Thanks so much momma for this sweet letter to me! I love you so much! I’m glad you chose to keep me.

  3. Happy Birthday, Tara. You are very adored and cherished. YOU were designed to LIVE and bring LIFE to this world. Keep bringing it girl. I Love you, Aunt Dawn (Incredible post, Jeanie)

  4. I was amiss in all the hub-blub of this week to finally read this. Or maybe I wanted to make sure that I was alone because, honey, you always do this to me. Here I sit in Estes, with the sun shinning on snow covered peaks dotted with pineage and bawling like the baby you just talked about. I also love you my sweet Tara, for you are one of the most gracious people that I know. Happy Birthday, honey! And sorry about the pics on my blog, it is doing something weird and distorting us :) You are a master my Jeanie…

  5. Mi favorita…. I’m sitting here with some tears welling up in my eyes… you REALLY ARE THE MOST INCREDIBLE HUMAN I’VE EVER HAD THE PRIVILEGE TO KNOW!!!! It’s true, I’ve NEVER met anyone like you… I am blessed beyond words by you on a daily basis… day-in, day-out, you have my heart, you hold my heart, you’re IN my heart, you’re the art hangin’ in my heart…. I love you Sweetness!!! Happy Birthday!! :)

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