She's Seventeen today. Wow. Wait...How can that be true? That went by so amazingly fast. I know every parent says that. But it seems it all only lasted a heartbeat's length. I am trying to wrack my MS'd brain...trying to fumble for the 'Rewind' button so I can go back and watch it all over again...being careful--this time--to pay attention to all of The Sights (her sleeping heavy in my arms--all stuffed and drunk on milk--all of "The First's"--the First Time I saw her face, her First Steps, her First Day of school), The Smells (baby powder kisses and fresh out of the dryer hugs), The Sounds (her musical, infectious laughter that bubbled up out of her little body and had the power to instantly cause a smile on every set of lips within earshot). Can I just see it all again, just one more time?
She's a young Woman now....and what a fine one she is. She is Wise so far beyond her years--and ancient soul in this young, healthy body. Yet, her Kindness and Consideration for others harkens back to a simpler time, many decades ago. Her Nana would be proud.
She is Brave. More brave than anyone I've ever met. She has seen hand to hand combat, looked evil in the eye and stared it down. She has known both Loss and Death. She has felt Pain that would have caused someone three times her age to cry for mercy, yet she set her jaw and kept going.
She is Beautiful. Not restricted by the conventional...she radiates a Light from within. She is His, and it shows. She is Grace...even when she stumbles in her high heels.
She is Love. She's filled with it to the point that it almost oozes out of every pore. The world has tried to stamp this out of her. She had every excuse to become angry and bitter and to replace her love with hate, but the world was unsuccessful in it's efforts.
My Dearest Talia Beth,
I don't have a lot to give you, on this, your seventeenth birthday. I won't be able to throw you a huge party or give you the keys to a new car or a diamond (your birthstone)---all of which you deserve, and so much more. All I have to give you is my words and all the things that have been yours since the moment your little heart started keeping rhythm with mine--my Gratitude, my Trust, my Admiration and undying Devotion and Love.
This seems so unfair to me...it's your birthday, but it was I who received The Gift 17 years ago...and every single day since then. I got to be your Momma.
You are this lovely multifaceted little creature dipped in honey and sprinkled with star shine. If I live another month or 50 more years I will never do anything greater with my life than bringing you and your brother into it.
This song is for you. I know you don't always see your extreme Beauty and your priceless Value and Worth, but making you aware of those gifts--and all the gifts you have been given by God--is the greatest thing a mother could do for her child At Seventeen...and beyond.
Happy Birthday Talia. Your happiness remains my Joy, forever.
I love you,
"AT SEVENTEEN"By Janis Ian
I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired
The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth...
And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say "come dance with me"
And murmured vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems at seventeen...
A brown eyed girl in hand me downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said: "Pity please the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve"
The rich relationed hometown queen
Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly...
So remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
In debitures of quality and dubious integrity
Their small-town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received at seventeen...
To those of us who knew the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball
It was long ago and far away
the world was younger than today
when dreams were all they gave for free
to ugly duckling girls like me...
We all play the game, and when we dare
We cheat ourselves at solitaire
Inventing lovers on the phone
Repenting other lives unknown
That call and say: "Come on, dance with me"
And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me, at seventeen...
Watch the video of "At Seventeen" here