My oldest is now 22. Her birthday was Tuesday, today is actually her due date. And funny, back in 1991, the 15th was a Tuesday and the 19th a Saturday. I can't believe it's been 22 years since they put that tiny baby girl in my arms. And yeah, "tiny" is the right word. She was only five pounds, 11 ounces. Her first Sunday, she wore a doll dress to church, and it fit perfectly! I was barely older than she is now when I gave birth to her. And now she's an adult, actually has been for four years.
Deborah was born an "old soul." Not that she didn't do childish things, not that she was able to be independent from the get-go, but there was something mature inside from the beginning. But as I look back over her past several years, it's been interesting to watch a very fast maturing. I think it's come from her experiences.
As a senior, a friend of hers, a teammate, was killed in an auto accident. Deborah's soul in anguish, she reached out to the rest of the team and gathered them in. And as time went on, and one in particular still really, REALLY struggled, she was there for that person, day or night. Even with her own pain, she reached out with comfort.
Her freshman year of college, she learned that her new baby brother wasn't going to live. Again, even with her own pain, she reached out. I remember being at a dance competition and a friend of mine was so excited about our baby and was gushing about how happy she was for me (she didn't know the diagnosis). I smiled and thanked her, and went around the corner and sank to the ground, tears pooling in my eyes. Deborah came looking for me a few minutes later to tell me something, found me, and just put her arms around me and held me.
When school got out in April, she moved home and took over almost all my chores. Repeatedly, she asked me what needed to be done next, who needed to be taken where, and asked me to go sit down on the couch. When Aaron was born, she took to him immediately, soaking up that precious, perfect spirit of his, spending time with him.
When it came time to Lifeflight Aaron from our home, Deborah packed things up for me, helped with his ventilator while paramedics bagged Aaron. She called a neighbor and got me a ride to the hospital. And then, on her Thanksgiving break, she and Mary held down the fort with the youngers because Dad was out of town. And while that may have been the first time she had to do that, it certainly wasn't the last.
Her funding for college ran out after two years, so she moved back home and went to work full-time, helping care for senior citizens that could no longer care for themselves. During that time she earned enough to buy herself a small older car (for cash, not on time) and put away enough to go back to school. Working graveyards for two years pretty much screwed up her sleeping schedule, but with it, she also made herself available in the home during the day if I needed to go out. See, she also learned all of Aaron's cares and emergency protocols.
Deborah is nearly as good with Aaron and his needs as I am. I don't know many other 21-year-olds who have looked Death in the eye and shown Him the door. But one day when I was gone running errands, Aaron's ventilator had an issue. His oxygen
was at about 40% if I remember right. She called me to run through things. I told her to start bagging him and if she didn't like how he looked in a minute, to call 911. I was on my way. (Wouldn't you know that day was the ONE day that traffic had to go the speed limit, side by side? Where's a cop when you WANT to get pulled over?) I got here as fast as I could, racing into the house. She had rescued him, found the problem, and he was playing happily. And she wasn't freaked out. She just did it.
She can change a trach, change a g-tube, and tickle him to make him laugh. She knows where it is she wants to go in life. She's got a plan. Will she make mistakes still? I hope so. We all do. But if I had to pick anyone to stand by my side in a crisis, she would be one of the very first. Yeah, I think she's grown up. She is an adult. And I'm so grateful she's also my friend.