Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Very present

Twenty years ago today, our last baby was born, on a cold, frosty morning in Tacoma, WA (It even snowed later that night). I had had the kind of  pregnancy that made my obstetrician ask, in the final weeks I carried the baby, what we were going to do to ensure we'd never have another (Dr. Lee actually thought both Beve and I should be 'fixed' just to play it safe!).  And that morning things didn't go very well, either, and by the time she was born, I was pretty much out of it, in deep shock, and could barely hear anyone talk. Later, when I watched the tape, I heard Beve's delighted voice telling me "It's a girl!" but my first memory of SK was when Beve brought her into my room.  I was still, because of the shock, too cold to even lift my arms out of the swath of warm blankets, but our tiniest, swaddled baby had her eyes wide open (shaped exactly like my beloved father's!) and her mouth formed a perfect O, like she was singing without words.  She was beautiful--even the much more objective nurses in the hospital told us that--"The most beautiful baby we've seen in a long time!"  My first instinct was that SK was very present, with a certain quality of life in her, like she was bursting with the notion of  " I came to be born, I was always meant to be. And now I'm HERE, I'm finally here!" 

The sense of her very present-ness, if that makes sense, has never left. When she's in a room, the room is more alive, she just brings something to a moment that makes the moment bigger--I once told her I wanted a tape of her laugh, because I need it in my life, even when she's gone.  Sure, part of it's because she's dramatic and passionate, but even when she needed the long hours of playing quietly alone, her play and imagination were soaring and compelling.  This is a child who could create families of pebbles, who watched movies so she could act out every part sometimes with costume and make-up (and can still quote lines after one viewing that I couldn't remember if I watched something dozens of times), whose way of looking at the world was full of metaphor and imagery. When she sat on her feet and they fell asleep, she'd say, "My feet fell like pinecones."  When snow dusted the mountains, she talked about God's baby powder.  She wondered why people called it 'raining cats and dogs' (though she looked for dogs falling from the sky).  To her, rain was sobbing angels, and a crying God.

One day, when she was in first grade, she stood outside the glass doors to the sanctuary at our church, looking in at the cross.  She turned to me and said, "I feel so bad that Jesus had to die alone.  He did it for us, and but we leave Him alone. I don't want to do that,, so I asked Him to come and live in me."  No prompting, no 4 spiritual laws, just God touching SK in a way as unique as she is.  And I don't think she's ever lost that sense of His presence in her as something for Him as well as for her.  They're in it together, Jesus and SK, doing life.

She has grown up with her expressive eyes still open in interest about everything in life, and her mouth always singing.  The drama we saw when she was still in diapers has played out on many stages.  She has been one of Cinderella's step-sister(how memorable that was to everyone who saw her dance on top of the ballroom stairs!), a Spider mother, and a queen. She's been a fishmonger and a flapper, an appleseed and a chinese poker player.  Whatever she puts her heart in, she becomes. 

Actually, whatever she puts her heart is, she does to the glory of God.  This is a young woman whose life verse is, "Whatever you do, in word or deed, do all to the glory of God."  She worries--yes, she's a worry-wart--about relationships, about classes, about all her abundant extra activities, but mostly that she tries to live her own life, rather than giving God control.  It's the lesson she always feels she's learning.  Come to think of it, it's the lesson we're all always learning.  She's a thoughtful, tolerant friend, a person who once told me I was being insensitive because, in trying to figure out which of her classmates she was talking about, I asked her, "Is he the fat boy?"  Yes, I've been chastised by her many times, because she doesn't like gossip, doesn't do slander, is, in sooo many ways, a better person than I am.

It's clear, I suppose, that I'm proud of her.  Of all three of them, obviously.  It's pretty hard to take credit for the great person SK is.  She came that way, and I've spent my life trying to stay out of God's way as He molds her into who He intends her to be.  From the beginning, this muscial, theatrical  child, so different from the athletic, sports-minded other two, completed our family, rounded us out, made us broader than we might have been.  And I will never cease thanking God for that--for her.

So happy golden birthday, SK. 20 on the 20th.  I love you.

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