What an emotional week! After Sunday's Baccalaureate and Shelbi's speech at Senior Night, I wondered if the actual graduation ceremony could get better than those two events. But it was even so much more than I imagined! This morning (4:30) to be exact, I just lay there in tears pondering and processing everything.
I shared with Larry that every mother simply wants their child to be loved. That is a mother's heart's desire. My heart's desire was realized last night for Shelbi.
After the processional, the prayer, the valedictorian's and salutatorian's speeches, and scholarships were announced, Shelbi's principal spoke. He talked about how being principal gave him certain advantages. He said he wanted to honor 4 ladies that had inspired him. He proceeded to tell the audience about one student that had not talked to him and how much he had longed for her to. He told the story of the morning announcement and the first time this student had said, "Good morning, Mr. Brown." In tears, he described how moved he was by my daughter. How she was "his miracle." He then called Shelbi forward and presented her with a rose and a big hug. One of the most touching moments I've ever witnessed. This tough high school principal reduced to tears because a seventeen year old had said good morning to him. The audience was in tears. Several of Shelbi's classmates were dabbing at their eyes. I glanced back at Debbie to find tears streaming down her cheeks. The love in that building was palpable. Love for my baby. Our sixth child. I was in tears.
And in the wee hours of the morning, with the events replaying in my mind, my tears flowed freely. Larry wasn't sleeping well either and reached out to hug me. I shared with him that I was finding it ironic that I cried so hard after the ultrasound showed us we were having "another girl." I remember feeling so afraid that, after having three of his own girls and taking on my two, Larry would be disappointed. I knew he'd love her. But maybe he wouldn't/couldn't love another girl as much as he would have a son. This was going to be our only child together, his last chance to carry on his name, our special baby. How, I thought, would another girl be special? I know some people might think that's silly, but it was what I felt almost nineteen years ago. We loved our five girls and I know all kids are special, but I wanted to give him the son he had always wanted. If Larry was disappointed during the ultrasound, he never showed it. When we got home, I called my Nannie like I had promised to give her the news. As the words, "It's another girl," came out of my mouth my voice cracked. I quickly told Nan good-bye and hung up. I recall Larry putting his arms around me from behind and telling me, "It's alright. It's our baby and she will be special because she's ours." I loved him for that. :) However, I guess I needed to grieve the loss of the son I had dreamed about for four months, so I ended up lying in the bed and sobbed for a couple of hours. I felt guilty about that for years. In a few days, I was fine. Leslie and I went through a box in the closet and pulled out Mallory and Sarah's newborn clothes. As I looked at the pink and lace, it started to matter less and less. I couldn't help but start getting excited. Still a little disappointed though, but only until I saw her face. The video of Shelbi's birth shows a room full of smiling, happy people celebrating a new little girl. Not one face looks disappointed.
At birth, I knew we loved her. At sixteen months, when she was being tested for leukemia, I knew we would die for her. At six, diagnosed with Selective Mutism, we cried for her when she couldn't get the words out. The wondering, "Will my child be loved?" came back. "Will she be accepted?" It was hard to send my baby off to a school with 400 other children and not worry. If she were bullied, who would tell? If she couldn't talk, how would she make friends? All valid concerns, but one by one God calmed our fears. One by one, He chose her teachers. One by one, He chose her friends. He protected her. She was never bullied, never tortured, and her teachers and other school employees loved her. Each step of progress was celebrated.
All any mother wants, really, is for her child to be loved. To know her child is loved. Last night, my child was loved. Not just by her family, not just by her friends, but by our town. It was beautiful. Just another girl? I think not.