Ellery Jane at 9

September 24, 2019

Dear Ellery Jane,

It seems as if nine is upon us.

As I sit, caught off guard by the passage of time, I think about the beautiful girl you are becoming.

Day turning into day, finding myself wishing I had hit record on the thoughtful words you fill our hours with. Today you inquired as to when I thought we had become so close? When had you and I developed this bond? I told you of how we were knitted together before God placed you in my belly.

You my darling child are bold. You are strong. You are a leader.

You are persistent and you are just as much grit as you are grace.

I am most excited to see where these next years take you.

I have now doubt you could become a teacher or an astronaut or our President.

Do me a favor will you? Keep talking to me. Keep telling me where you hide the hurts.

I promise to keep loving on you. I’ll make sure to make those silly faces at school drop off and always hold my arms wide open when I pick you up each afternoon.

Don’t stop dancing and dreaming and doing everything that makes you uniquely Ellery Jane.

I love you to the moon and back.

Your one and only Momma

PS – We’re going to be alright, odds are.

 

 

 

 

Recovering

Dear Dad,

I wish I had thanked you for the butterscotch candies on the desk;

the dance parties (the ones where my feet on top of yours made indentations in the living room carpet);

the long car rides ending with ice cream in a baseball cap;

for the nights spent in the garage checking tire pressure and oil levels;

for conversations over cups of coffee and

for that time when we fought and you apologized by returning home from Kmart with a pair of black boots that made me feel like Debbie Gibson.

I wish I had thanked you for your belief in the beauty of that permed and pimpley faced eleven year old.

I know there were hard years.

Times in the blue chair when you wondered why your opinion once important now meant so little. Days when you wished a few laps around the high school track, your girl keeping pace, could bridge the divide.

Thank you for never waivering.

Your confidence would bring you through the dry spell until once again your words held weight.

I found you in the birth of my daughters.

Your smile in Audrey. Your hard-headedness in Sid.

I wish I could thank you for helping me to navigate those first sleepless night,

for the phone calls,

the long runs,

the days at the beach while I rested tired eyes and you wrangled little girls.

If you were here now I’d thank you for Ellery Jane. Her tough exterior, booming voice and tender heart is the physical reminder of your presence.

The places I found solace after you left us; your library and it’s books with your handwritten notations in the margins, they provided great comfort. I wish I could thank you for guiding me back to God.

Recovering from your loss is what brought me here.

Your death informed.

I want to thank you for Matt and Sydney and Molly and Zoey, for this life that longs to live in service to others.

Thank you for those thirty years of loving me on earth and the twelve spent guiding from above.

I hope I make you proud.

Forever your girl,

Heather Ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

Dear Sidney,

Fifteen years come and gone. 5,475 days passed in the blink of an eye.

Then 7lbs 12 oz and all leg,

today 5’11 inches of grit and grace.

Here is what I want you to know as you sit on the threshold of independence.

Take time to smile at strangers.

Get mad when you meet indifference.

If it feels wrong, don’t do it.

Wear your poker face only when playing poker.

When you don’t want to pray, that’s the exact moment your knees should meet the floor.

Listen to your Momma when she asks you to make your bed, but ignore her when she tells you to stop stealing chocolate chips from the pantry. Oh and always say yes to the chocolate shake. Life’s to short not to indulge your sweet tooth.

Remember your roots, carry on tradition. Us Dahlberg’s can parallel park like no one’s business. We expect nothing less from you as well (Uncle David’s example does allow you to fail the drivers test twice before passing as long as your parking game is on point).

You are strong, capable, loving, intuitive, smart as a whip and better than any darn daughter I could have dreamed up.

You have all the tools, now refine the skills.

I am so grateful for the gift of being your Momma.

Happiest of Birthday my darling girl.

Keep dreaming big.  I’m here to dream with you.

I love you to the moon and back,

Your one and only Momma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father

Long hours worked.

Days spent at the hospital, weekends on drill and the pager that went off at ungodly hours. The pinging sounding a soldier with wings.

Last rites administered, returning home, he would make the sign of the cross on our heads, we knew nought; unaware he had sat besides deaths door.

The journey of those 60 years summed up in that example.

What is a life well lived if you have not served your fellow man?

What mark have your left if the imprint of Christ’s cross cannot be seen by those who walk with your offspring?

I can only imagine what he would tell me today, eleven years after his passing.

Most likely it would be to vaccum out my car, change it’s oil and call my mom.

He would also, like Tolkein, tell me “not to let grief harden my heart”.

So today I sit with a grateful heart for the man that walked with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question

The question asked.

“Are they all yours?”

We were in line waiting to use the restroom.

My smile and head nod, not enough of an answer for her.

“Were you trying for a boy?”

Thankful the stall door opened and my no” could end the conversation.

The truth is the story of our family cannot be shared in three second sound bites.

The girls know that. They don’t discuss details with curious strangers.

If asked they tell of their five sisters.

Yes there are six of them, no twins.

They often throw in a line about how the dog is a girl too.

It doesn’t matter they didn’t all come from one womb. They are woven together.

In those brief interactions with others, I struggle with the desire to summerize all that is our family.

Yet, these fierce, loyal, loving young ladies have come to understand what is taking their Momma year’s to accept -nothing needs explained.

Next time maybe I need not wish the inquiry away.

Joy in the knowledge that my daughters know what family is.

Sydney at 12

Dear Sydney,

I wish you were reading this on your birthday!

With the busyness of April and May, the days slipped away and almost a full month later you finally get to read my birthday mushiness. I’m sorry for the lateness kiddo. I promise I will do better next year.

You’re simply the best bonus daughter a step-momma could ask for.

Loving, kind, patient, hardworking, dedicated, funny and pretty darn smart.

Being a part of this loud, opinionated family can certainly challenge one’s patience yet your  approach is always level-headed.

The back and forth between homes with it’s changing rules and shifting boundries could be a struggle for anyone and you navigate it all with an unending reserve of grace.

Your ability to embrace my extended family has left me teary eyed. 

I am easily filled with hope for our tribe of eight when you are around.

Thank you Sydney Rae for allowing me to play a small role in your life.

I’m always here should you need a Starbucks run or a dance party in the kitchen.

Happiest of birthday’s my love!

H

 

PS-

This may just be the most perfect birthday song ever. I hope you get what I am saying with this pick.

 

 

 

 

Trust Fall

A year ago I sat in the sterile office of a specialist.

He told me tests I had taken revealed 80% of the hearing in my right ear was lost.

A silent virus had infiltrated.

A mistake at the urgent care meant weeks wasted on medication that never could have cured me. Time had been of the essence.

I was faced with the looming possibility of a lifetime of asking others to repeat their words.

In the midst of the tears I chuckled at God’s timing. No sooner had he given me six girls then he had rid me of my ability to hear them clearly!

I left with a high dose of steroids and a reality check.

Ten days later I returned and was told what I had already known to be true. The medication had worked and my hearing was “mostly” restored.

Leaving giddy, tucking away the specialists final warning- I would forever be prone to these types of inner ear infections. If left untreated the ear would go deaf.

Too many times to count during the previous months have I grown anxious.

When the ringing begins, when the world feels like it exists in a tunnel, I ponder the purpose of two ears.

I immediately feel selfish for fearing the possibility of such an insignificant inconvenience.

Such is the story of my life.

There is safety in the fear. Who am I without the worry?

Yet he calls me closer to the edge. He provides the possibility of the unexpected.

So I shall learn to trust in the timing of those things small and those things big.

And when he takes the moments to teach me, to lift me from my comfortable existence, it is then I will learn to fall completely into his arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broken

There was a midnight wake up call from a sick child, a husband away on a business trip and an eight year old in tears over the standardized testing taking place that morning. I was over the day before it had even begun.

A saint, my mother, arrived in the early hours to shepherd the six girls through their morning routine while I hopped in the car for a nearly three hour commute.

It was no wonder that fog filled my brain and I found myself on the road less traveled. Miscalculating my route meant no cell reception for a great portion of the drive rendering it impossible to join a 9am conference call. I had no choice but to watch the sunrise over the rolling hills.

I pondered the hard parts;

this journey of motherhood and career.

Feeling called to both I wondered why it could be so impossible at times.

And in that moment I came to realize that I will forever live in this space of in between.

There is no magic fix, no way to Maria Kondo my way into balance;

always there will be something off kilter.

The imbalance does not make me broken, it makes me real.

So I will feel sad that I miss the tooth falling out and ecstatic when a project I shepherd moves forward. I will hold the hurts and the happy all in one place.

There is beauty in the rising sun. This is where I want to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Hallelujah

She dreamed of a man who worked hard, loved Jesus and lived a life of service. One who would desire a women and three beautiful babies to walk through life with.

Each night praying for him, not by name but with descriptors. Every morning awaking hopeful hearted that today he would appear.

One day it was as if it all made sense.

The man in the pew in front of her with his own three beautiful babies.

The Sunday’s spent watching as he patted heads, tenderly held hands and shepherded souls though mass.

Grateful that she had not missed it.

Through the loss, her God had led her here.

Now nearly two years since that date, she can hardly remember a moment he wasn’t a part of her peace.

As he turns the page to 40 she dares to dream what 40 more will look like by his side.

The babies they will raise.

The mountains they will climb.

The love that will be multiplied.

Tonight she will thank God for answered prayers, for her hallelujah.

 

 

 

Audrey at 12

Dear Audrey Hope,

You are bold. You are brave. You are incredibly beautiful.

You tell stories, weaving words together and turning the mundane into magic.

When people come into your presence, they most immediately feel loved.

And that smile! It simply lights up our lives.This birthday feels different, a bit of nostalgia mixed in with the moment. The threshold of the teenage years crossed, earning more of your independence with each passing day.I want to keep you close, to protect you from the ugly this world can throw. But, in doing so, it would also hold you back from the joy that comes after the ache.

I am so very proud of you.

I know you will make good decisions.

Never doubt how much you are loved and how uniquely and wonderfully made you are.

I believe in you.

Love,

Momma

P.S.- This years birthday song says it better than I ever could