today is your fifth birthday. 5!
It doesn't seem possible. You were just three when you first came to our house, and it's hard for me to even imagine that I've known you at ages 3, 4, and now 5.
You don't know it, but we are throwing you a surprise party tomorrow night. All of your cousins on my side of the family will be there. I cannot wait to see your face when you realize we are celebrating you. I can't wait for you to see your cheese pizza waiting for you, I can't wait for you to see all your presents, I can't wait for you to see your cake.
I've gone a little overboard this year on gifts, but I just want so badly for you to know that this birthday is a big deal, and that we celebrate you being here with us.
Two years ago your fifth birthday was not even guaranteed, because unbeknownst to anyone, little cancer cells were spreading their way through your blood.
One year ago you had been with us only a couple of weeks, the trauma of foster care spinning you in circles. You were in the throws of intense treatment that was tearing your little body down. You hadn't been with us long enough to meet any friends, so we took you to our foster care agency and had everyone sing you happy birthday over cake. Your little body was still so sick, so fragile.
This year we are nearing the end of treatment for that unwelcome disease, and you are so much stronger. Your hair is nearing the nape of your neck with full, thick curls. There is joy in your eyes and color in your cheeks. We aren't through yet, but together with God, we are going to beat this disease and I can tell you know it in your soul. Your trip through foster care is not yet over, and the path it is taking is clouded, still. But you are home here - not your only home, not your first home, but you are home. You know you are loved and cherished, and your confidence shows in everything you do.
You will start kindergarten in just a few weeks, which has this Mama a little nervous, but you will do great. You are so smart. When you came to us there were many things you hadn't yet learned that one would have expected you to know - but now, now you can write your alphabet, spell words, count to 100, color in the lines, draw beautiful pictures (and I can tell what they are!), identify what primary colors go together to make other colors, do minimal addition and subtraction......
You are smart, and I can't wait to watch you learn in Kindergarten.
You are so helpful, with your sisters and in general. You and Sylvia have your spats just like any sisters do (sometimes more often than not) but I can see a gentle spirit in you - you are sensitive and caring. Your stubborn streak is sometimes, well, more than a streak - but eventually, God willing, you will use that to stand up for your beliefs and challenge the status quo.
You love swimming, dressing up, having tea parties, playing pretend, and being outside. You love to play in the dirt (a girl after my own heart), mostly while wearing dresses. You have an incredible laugh, and you love to be tickled. You are such a little mama, a first born to the core. You are beautiful.
I don't know about you, but this all sounds like a million wonderful reasons to celebrate 5. You are special and cherished not only by Brian and I, but by Jesus - and as you grow I can see more and more of his fingerprints in your little personality.
Happy Birthday sweet girl. We will celebrate. We will celebrate you, the gift you are to our family, the healing that we have witnessed in you in the last year, your renewed chance at life, and the purpose and life that Jesus has waiting to unfold for you in the year to come.
Love you, love you, love you,