December 16, 2009

Giveaway Winner {and a favorite gift story} . . .

I was overwhelmed by the beautiful responses you all shared about some of your favorite gifts. Your comments have given me great ideas for future gifting. Thank you for speaking up! Thanks to the website random.org for randomly generating the winner of the December giveaway.

Congratulations to Sunny who wrote:
"So my gift was actually a heartfelt note from my Dad that was left on my bed during a particular stressful and overwhelming time during college. (I'm not sure it counts?) He just gave words of encouragement and that he loved me and knew I could make it through. It was so thoughtful because at that time I knew my Dad was also going through stressful times with his business which in comparison with my little college stresses were nothing. Anyways, I still have the note and pull it out every time I start to get stressed out and it always makes me shed a tear and calms me down...which to me is the best gift ever."

I know your dad, Sunny, so I can imagine just how special this gift is to you. Your gift from me is in the mail. I hope you enjoy some of my favorite things! There will be another give away in January, so stay tuned.

Now, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to share with you the story of one of my all-time favorite gifts. Please forgive me, it's a little long, but as you'll see, it is absolutely worth EVERY WORD.

The First Birth:

Forty-one years ago this May, a beautiful twenty-one year old woman gave birth to a healthy, pink baby girl in a hospital in Durham, North Carolina. The delivery was a tough one – but not due to medical complications.

This delivery would mark the single most difficult moment in the young woman’s life. She would deliver her baby girl alone, while the father of her child was thousands of miles away fighting a war in Vietnam. She would deliver her baby girl alone, while her family in Utah was completely unaware of the pregnancy. And because she lived in a different time, when single motherhood was a public shame, after only a few days, she would deliver her baby girl alone into the arms of a social worker with a plea to “make sure the adoptive family knows I love her and have given them the greatest gift a human can ever give to another”.

The young woman who made that difficult choice so many years ago is my mother. Eventually she married the soldier after his return from Vietnam. And he is my father. But the baby girl born in Durham, North Carolina is not me.

A Second Birth:

Growing up as an only daughter sandwiched between two brothers suited me fine. Instead of boohooing about not having a sister, I chose to develop and maintain lasting friendships with women from all walks of life and embrace my seven sisters-in-law. In each of them, I have found sister spirits who have walked with me along my journey.

Then one night a year and a half ago, my parents gathered me, my two brothers and our spouses together at their home for “a meeting.” They began by expressing great love and appreciation for us. Their words were carefully chosen and their gratitude was evident by the tears that rolled down their cheeks. Next, they handed each of us a large manila folder, asked us to read its contents, and promptly left the house. Confused and intrigued, we began reading.

What happened next is one of those life moments that is hard to recapture in writing or even in words. In the folder were a series of remarkable letters detailing the birth, adoption, search and eventual reunion of a daughter with her birth parents – MY parents. From us, her existence had been kept a secret for forty years. The reality of this secret, of her life, became etched on our hearts as we watched a DVD filled with pictures of another daughter – one who bore a remarkable resemblance to me.

Five days later, this daughter walked through the door of OUR parents home and I knew instantly that the words on the pages, the face in the pictures and this person standing in front of me were all beautifully encapsulated in one word: SISTER. On that day, to me, (though she was almost forty years old) she had just been born.

The Last Birth:

That God would choose to give me a life with my sister after thirty-five years was a miracle I sometimes struggled to understand. Weaving her threads into the already complicated tapestry of my life took effort and was not always without pain. At the same time this all occurred, my husband and I were also dealing with a very personal struggle – three years of unexplainable infertility and miscarriages.

After exploring many options, we had finally come to the conclusion that our family must be complete despite lingering feelings to the contrary. We moved on, enjoying the three children we already had, while insulating our hearts from the sorrow, disappointment and sense of failure our decision had left with us.

Then one sunny Fall day the unimaginable happened: a pregnancy test gifted us with a pink line and even more unimaginable, the pregnancy decided to stick!

My sister rejoiced with me in the happy news. She sent me darling maternity clothes and called frequently to see how I was feeling. She even flew out to be at my baby shower. I felt prompted to ask her if she would like to be present at the baby’s birth and she readily agreed. A little less than a week before I was due to deliver, however, her grandmother passed away and we realized that our plans were not to be.

The night before my scheduled induction I went to my parents’ house for a “Last Supper”. Minutes after my arrival, my sister walked through the door surprising me. I was suddenly reminded that after missing a lifetime of ‘life events’, she would do whatever it took to be present for such an occasion.

My son was born in the early afternoon the next day. My mother, sister and two sisters-in-law were there as cheerleaders of my effort. As my husband held my hand, I sobbed tears of true joy when sweet Oliver’s tiny body was placed in my arms for the first time – thinking of how long we had waited to call him ours.

But my tears were also for my mother – she had just lifted my shoulders with each round of pushing – who forty years earlier had been in a similar room doing the exact same thing in order to give birth to my sister whom she would have to give away. And my tears were for my sister, whom I’d never known, but with whom I was now able to share this moment: the birth of my last child.

For one brief moment, as I looked from my mom to my sister, I could see that it had all come full circle – birth, pain, joy, sorrow, loss, grief, heartache, rebirth, joy, birth, exultation – the emotions we three shared in our roles as mothers, daughters and sisters, and I felt myself tied to these other two women, my mother and my sister, forever.

These three births – now one story – are some of the greatest gifts I know I’ll ever be given.

I love you Queen and Apis Meliflora!
dragonfly signature

21 comments:

Apis Melliflora said...

So proud to call you SISTER. Sometimes God answers a simple prayer in the most spectacular, lavish way. Prayed to find the Queen and there you all were. Thank you for this lovely post and for always, from the very beginning, loving me. It's posts like this that bring the point home: this is a large-hearted magnificent blog about something.

Christy said...

What a beautiful story, as I'm wiping away the tears. Thanks for sharing it with us. I can't imagine a better gift than a sister.

Tobi said...

Three cheers and celebrations all around. I love this story and I love that Apis is finally "out." Love you too Sam!

something good said...

You are a great story teller! That was beautiful-talk about a tear jerker! I'm glad I haven't put on my make-up yet!

Bells said...

What an amazing story. Thanks for starting my day off with tears, good tears. Thank you for sharing such a personal story with us. Merry Christmas! PS. I just received cards from Dave, Linda, Julie and Laura...good times! Remember how much you loved when Dave would yell SAM out of his office door and the whole floor could hear him?

LJB said...

What an awesome story! Writing is so freeing and helps so much to sort through feelings and emotions! You are a beautiful writer dragonfly! Isn't it amazing how our Heavenly Father if we trust in him and allow him to guide our lives, we end up on paths we never would have thought of, but these paths end up bringing so much joy and growth; though not always easy, it's definitely worth it! Thanks for sharing! Love ya!

Kasey Hunt said...

What a beautiful story. You do have a talent for writing. You two could almost be twins!!

Jennifer said...

I didn't really want to cry this early in the morning, really, I didn't. But what a beautiful story!
My visiting teachers are about tot pop in and they are going to wonder what in the world is wrong with me. Better go fix that!
You could be twins. What beautiful women you are, and so blessed to have each other as sisters. We are equally blessed to be able to read this beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Sue said...

Love it. Love you 3 amazing women. Period.

katrina said...

joyful tears. god is good! Forgiveness, love and kindness are glorious blessings.

Stacey Gerlach Moe said...

This is just such a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us...

Tarra said...

Thank you for sharing.. May the blessings and gifts gained from this story continue to reveal themselves for generations.

squeezeme said...

The very best gifts do come from God. What a blessing to witness these miracles of "births" happening in your lives. How blessed I am to be one of your sister friends, to know the amazing Queen and to have spent a few choice moments getting to know Apis Melliflora.

Jean/ladyjosh said...

You did a beautiful blog. You are a great sister and great daughter. Thank you for writing this. Joan Pat and I were glad to play a small role in all of this. Even more important was to be able to see it come full circle. Your parents have meant a great deal to us and now so do you all. Once again Thank you. Jean Joan and Pat

The Queen Vee said...

Overwhelmed and speechless.

Cheri, Rich & Kids said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing these most tender moments and feelings! Thank you for a wonderful Christmas gift...a reminder of what's most important and also the beauty of love, repentance and forgiveness! My heart is overflowing with joy for your family!
p.s. what a great sister picture
Merry Christmas!!

Tracie said...

Tears of joy are a-flowin'! Well written and beautiful and fabulous and . . . I am so glad you shared this with us. Love you!

Susan said...

No matter how many times I hear this story I always shed tears of joy for you, your mom and sister.

Susan said...

No matter how many times I hear this story I always shed tears of joy for you, your mom and sister.

AllisonK said...

beautiful. Beautiful.

Laura@livingabigstory said...

Your mom shared this post with me (finding me from Allison's guest post on my blog). You have a talent for writing -- the love your family has for each other is such a blessing.