On October 15, 1975, I became a mother. I already knew--not through technology, back in the day--but in my heart I knew for sure that our first child would be a girl. And then she was here, ten fingers, ten toes, beautiful in every way. A daughter. Allyson Amber. What joy!
Larry and I couldn't believe that God would give us such a gift, but apparently He had, because we took our amazing daughter home with us and she began showing us who she was. She grew, and soon she skipped off to kindergarten with her little ribbon-tied pigtails. She was the smartest girl in the class, she made the best friend ever, she was everything a mother could want. Sweet joy!
Years flew by. Every school year started with an oh-so-cute picture of Allyson and her red-haired friend Caroline. Allyson became big sister to Phil and Jenny, loved her daddy above all people, and, through God's grace, developed a relationship with her Heavenly Father. Together we went through the drama of junior high and the happiness and minor heartbreaks of high school. She made us proud. Continuing joy!
One of my favorite quotes says that being a mother lets you know what it's like "to have your heart walk around outside your body." Every mother knows this feeling. Allyson is my heart. (Phil and Jenny too, of course. How blessed am I!) The day came when we did the strangest thing. We drove Allyson to college and left her there. I've never known such a feeling of incongruity as I felt looking back and seeing my heart happily waving me away. This, even this, was joy.
In college Allyson fell in love with the man she would choose to marry. She chose well. Clint is a man who is committed to protect her and walk with her through all the stages of life. Together they have given us the world's three greatest grandsons and made a home filled with love and laughter. Joy multiplied.
Along the way, a surprising thing happened. My daughter became my friend. Not just a you-might-as-well-be-friends-because-you're-stuck-with-each-other kind of friend. She is the kind of friend who makes me laugh like no one else, who knows what I'm really thinking, who holds my secrets and trusts me with hers, who wants the best for me, who I would have chosen to be my friend whether she had been my daughter or not. That is an amazing joy.
Today, my daughter, my baby, my girl, my friend, is 35! And today she faces a powerful, terrible enemy named Cancer. She stands strong and proud as she faces the foe that makes her future uncertain. In some way her strength protects all of us who love her so much. She says, "Lift up your eyes. See that God is good," and we see. She says, "Be still and know that He is God," and we are stilled.
Do you wonder what I feel when I see my girl suffering through this horrific trial? Oh, I feel the things you would imagine. I feel deep sorrow, great fear, dismay of the why-couldn't-it-be-me? variety; but there is more. I feel the deepest joy I have known.
This amazing Allyson is my daughter and my friend. I have the privilege of walking this walk with her. Our love grows deeper with every step. My admiration for her expands daily. And wonder of wonders, the greatest lesson of mothering becomes ultimately clear to me. All along, she has not really belonged to me. She has belonged to her God, her Creator. I stand back and watch as He cares for her and the two of them face the future. I know He has her, He loves her, He holds her. And that joy is unspeakable.
Happy birthday, Heart Girl. I love you.