This evening’s first was a celebration of Adriel, my youngest child, who had a milestone birthday today. She turned 30. It was a milestone for me as well, to have my baby turn 30 and to now have all three of my children officially in their 30’s. Oh my, the time has flown by.
I was very tempted to stop by Adriel’s house early this morning and knock on her door. When she came to the door, I would have made a strange request of her, much like she did to me when I turned 30. Of my children, Adriel seemed to be the most concerned about me reaching this grand old age. Alarmed might be a better word! The morning of my birthday, she ran into the bathroom, where I was taking a shower, and demanded that I stick my arm and hand out through the shower curtain. Amused, I did as she asked. She held my hand and carefully turned it palm up and then palm down again, examining it intently. Finally she sighed with relief. She was afraid I had become all wrinkly overnight, since I was now so old! She was four years old at that time.
Adriel arrived in our family during a time of transition. We had just bought our house and we were in the process of extensive remodeling. I had 4 year old Elissa, who would be starting kindergarten the next fall and 2 ½ year old Nathanael, who had just moved beyond diapers and a crib. Being 18 months apart, those two were more like twins, and they were constant companions and playmates. And then the tale-tell sign for me…..I couldn’t tolerate anything sweet all of a sudden. Three months after we had moved into our new house, I discovered I was pregnant. Adriel knows now that physically, it was a very tough pregnancy for me. A minor heart condition became a major problem for the next 8 months, requiring weekly doctor visits and creating difficulties at home, as I cared for two toddlers and a house that was in a state of deconstruction. However, the day I heard this new baby’s heartbeat, at the doctor’s office, my whole world shifted. Even though it was the third time I had experienced hearing a tiny, yet strong heart beating beneath mine, I was awed, and amazed, and completely undone. My own heart, which was beating more rapidly than the baby’s, expanded with the deep love I felt for this gift, this new life I was being entrusted with.
Adriel has been a precious gift. Perhaps because she is five years younger than her sister and more than three years behind her brother, she has always demonstrated first born traits. All three of my kids show characteristics of being a first born. Adriel not only strove to keep up with her older siblings, she succeeded. She was also the orneriest of my kids, but maybe that goes with being the youngest and finding her place in our family. She was artistic, musical and had a flair for drama. Not dramatic. Acting. As a youngster she wowed audiences with her portrayal of an old woman, during a monologue. Had she desired to, she could have pursued acting and become another Sandra Bullock!
Instead, at the age of 14, Adriel became a volunteer at Freeman Hospital. And thus began a journey that has continued all these years. She amazed me by deciding to pursue nursing. I wasn’t astounded by her compassion for people, or her desire to help the elderly or the very young, especially. I wasn’t surprised by her determination that has carried her through years of going to school while she also worked. I was amazed because as a child, if anyone even said the word “snot” around her, she gagged. This child with the sensitive stomach now does things, as a nurse tech at Freeman, that I cannot imagine anyone doing. And she does those indescribable jobs with grace and dignity and great skill. In 87 days, Adriel will graduate from nursing school. She never wavered from her goal, and I am so proud of her for meeting challenges and adapting her life and continuing to work while doing so well, both academically and emotionally. Nursing school is tough. Life can be tough. This girl, with the sparkly eyes, is tougher.
I didn’t make my daughter show me her hand tonight, but I did have the opportunity to observe Adriel. She is a beautiful young woman, with no wrinkles on her smooth face. She and her sister and brother had animated conversations as we dined at Olive Garden. They are still so close and Adriel has often been the glue that holds that trio together. Both her siblings have relied on her during difficult times in their own lives, and when she has needed them, they are there for her in return. Her artistic bent tends more toward creative Pinterest projects and it has been a while since she sat down before a piano or acted in a play. That fiery, independent spirit is very evident though, as is her loyalty to family and friends and her commitment to her chosen profession. This child, now a lovely young woman, has always set huge goals for herself. I have no doubts that she will accomplish all she intends to do. Happy Birthday to my youngest, my achiever, my level headed planner, my charmer. Seize life and enjoy the journey!