I started something new last month, when my daughter Elissa had a birthday. Although my son’s birthday occurs earliest in the year, Elissa is my oldest, my firstborn. I seem to reset on her birthday and then continue the new tradition as my other children’s birthdays come up.
Today is my youngest child’s birthday. And as I did last month, this is not a birthday post as much as it is a reflection on my younger daughter, Adriel, and the lessons I’ve learned from her.
I have enjoyed this rainy Sunday, and a day of rest and self care. Last night I had the opportunity to see my daughter and share a meal with her. During this peace filled day, I’ve reflected on Adriel’s life and smiled over the joy she has brought to me…and teared up multiple times as I’ve sorted through family photos and pondered the lessons this beautiful soul has taught me.
Adriel has always surprised me. Discovering I was pregnant with baby number three was a big surprise…more of a shock really. With two toddlers already, a girl and a boy, our little family felt complete. However, it obviously was not! My pregnancy with Adriel was challenging, for two reasons. A minor heart condition that I have became a major problem during this pregnancy. And I felt very alone during those nine months of weekly doctors’ visits. Greg was busy with work and a new hobby…golf. His parents and mine all lived in other towns and/or states. I struggled to care for two active kids and a house.
Before she was even born, Adriel taught me to keep going, no matter what, and to find the joy in every situation. The day I heard her tiny heart beating for the first time, was the day I fully embraced this new life growing within me and opened my heart to her. I went home and sat quietly on the bed, holding infant clothes in my hands, imagining who she would be…and who she would become. I loved her fiercely.
And fierce she turned out to be! Adriel was the game changer in our family. The girls now outnumbered the boys. She was the youngest, but that never stopped her from doing her best to keep up with her older sister and brother. She was ornery…expressive…vocal…and tender hearted. She could love on her sister and then turn around and pinch her. She laughed when her daddy teased her brother, but cried when the teasing included her. She liked to tattle on me to her dad, if a male stranger smiled or winked at me while we were out shopping.
Adriel has always been her own person, and a force to reckon with, then and now.
One of the things that Adriel taught me, that had a great impact on me, was the beauty of tears. She cried easily as a child…because she was angry, because she was sad, because her feelings were hurt. Adriel felt no shame in crying. She would grab a handful of tissues and dab at her beautiful little eyes as the tears rolled out of them.
I envied her ability to cry like that. I struggled with showing emotion, and yet this precious child simply allowed the tears to flow. How her tears always melted my heart. I never shushed her. Adriel’s tears tried to open my own heart to the beauty of releasing pent up energy by crying. I wish now I had held her close and joined her by allowing my tears to flow with hers. I still think of young Adriel with her wadded up tissues, wiping her tears away. She is, unknowingly, still teaching me about crying.
The greatest lesson my youngest child has taught me is perseverance. Adriel has a “can do” attitude that has guided her through life. She decided at an early age that she wanted to be a nurse, and she has relentlessly followed that path. This was my child who gagged if someone said the word “snot” or sneezed in her presence. I never dreamed that she would enter the medical field.
But as I said, she surprises me. She started down her chosen path by volunteering at the hospital as a young teen. She allowed her fascination with the intricacies of the human body to overcome her tendency to react to certain unsavory things that the body is capable of. She taught me, by her example, to never give up…to follow your passion and your heart…and to get up every morning and keep going.
It was a long journey for this fiery girl, becoming a nurse. There were challenges as she worked full time and semester by semester completed her studies. Nursing school is difficult, even in the best possible circumstances. She didn’t have ideal conditions, as a tornado destroyed her home and a marriage came apart. Her life was upended. And yet…she persevered. She kept going. She didn’t stop trying. And she did it. My girl became a nurse.
Adriel bought another house. She married her sweetheart, Nate, last October. She has a career she enjoys, working as a RN for a neurologist. And still she keeps learning and growing and persevering, in pursuit of the life she desires.
As I did for Elissa last month on her birthday, I considered what symbol best represents my daughter Adriel. If I was going to get a tattoo for Adriel, in honor of her, her birthday, and her life, what would it look like? I asked for guidance, and I love how I was led.
My attention was first pulled to a pair of framed prints in my bedroom, vintage drawings of flowers. So, a flower for Adriel. The word that I associate with my daughter is “perseverance “. I googled to see which flower symbolizes that character quality. And I knew…before I saw the flower, I knew where I was being led.
Adriel’s middle name is Lauren. It’s a derivative of my own middle name, Lorene, and it is associated with laurel leaves which symbolize victory. That’s appropriate. However, I looked up the name Lauren. It literally means “from the place of the laurel leaves.” Is there a laurel flower? There is. And guess what the laurel flower symbolizes? Perseverance…steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
I drew laurel flowers for Adriel. There are laurel leaves in the sketch too, representing victory. But the flowers are significant. They are beautiful, these clusters of delicate blossoms, and the plant thrives, in less than ideal conditions. Poor soil and deep shade (darkness), do not prevent this flower from blooming and offering its fragrance to the world.
And that’s Adriel. Less than ideal conditions in her life have not stopped her from blooming, from offering her gifts, her beauty and her heart to the world. I am so grateful for the many surprises and great joys that have flowed into my life, since the day I discovered I was expecting another child. I continue to learn from her.
Adriel, my youngest child, the one who perseveres and doesn’t give up, I am excited to see where your journey takes you. I’ll be watching, and cheering for you, and surrounding you with love.