This girl. The one with her back turned to the camera, hands on her hips, standing at a bedside. Today is her 24th birthday. And I want you to know more about her.
She is the second of our four children; the only girl. Our girl.
She is a wife, a friend, and a college graduate still trying to figure out the purpose of that particular achievement and what it may lead her to. I keep telling her that's okay seeing as how I'm still figuring that out for myself.
She is the sister to three brothers whose activities and antics often put them in places where they are seen and heard. Her abilities don't always put her in a spotlight. She's more the show-up-to-watch-your-older-brother's-choir-concerts, set-up-chairs-for-your-brother's-EP-release-party, beta-test-your-brother's-new-game kind of person.
While she's genuinely content to cheer others' on, she is also unafraid to be seen. Given the chance, she'll own the spotlight and, most of the time, make you laugh until you cry. She'll even let you see the messy parts of her. The broken pieces. The scars. She lets you see all that because then she can tell you how she's been made whole. Not perfect, but whole.
She extends grace better than most people I know, probably because she has humbly received it. She loves unconditionally, and even when that love isn't reciprocated, she patiently pursues, believing things will get better.
Six weeks ago she put her life on hold to care for her dying grandmother. She served up raisin toast and grapefruit and two toddies a day, just the way Grandma Jan liked them. She juggled morphine doses and oxygen tanks and hospice visits and messes. She truly has been the unsung hero of this journey.
Yesterday morning, her role as caregiver ended as she helped prepare her grandmother's body to be taken away. I told her this may have been Grandma Jan's gift to her, leaving this world the day before her birthday so she wouldn't have to forevermore share this date with a shadow of the memory of saying goodbye. Instead, today is the beginning of a new season for her. It may be an unknown season at this point, but I have no doubt it will be filled with good things.
I chose this picture to share with you on this day because it represents how I have seen her these past six weeks; brave, willing and so much stronger than she even realizes; doing hard things, holy things, even when she thought no one was watching. But I was watching; and seeing her left me in awe.
Hannah, today is your day and I am singing your praises. I celebrate who you are, what you've done, and how you love. Happy birthday, my sweet girl.
I love you...