To Carol on her Birthday

Yesterday my sister-in-law Carol celebrated her birthday in the beautiful city of Istanbul. I wasn’t there to celebrate with her, and so I wrote this instead. 

Dear Carol,

It’s hard to accept that I can’t be with you today on your birthday. Because you know I would make you a cake and we would laugh and talk and cry. Best of all, we would solve the world’s problems.

When I met you so many years ago in the Taj Mahal of Shikarpur I had no idea you would become such an enormous part of my life. I remember showing you the engagement ring I had just received, and you in true “Carol” fashion “oohed and aahed” like we had known each other forever. Because one of the things you do so well is rejoice with people.

A couple of days later you would watch me in my mom’s kitchen, desperately trying to impress my then fiancée (now my husband of 30 plus years) by trying to make divinity. I think I burned through an electric beater and you watched my frustration, trying to make it better.

I had you picked out as a sister-in-law way before you and Dan began dating. I wrote to my parents that I thought you would make a great couple and they, wisely, did not respond. But I like to think I had something to do with the fact that you married my brother. As I think back on it, maybe it was just because I wanted you in my life that I wanted him to marry you. Regardless, it has benefitted both my brother and me in unimaginable ways!

You are my velvet and steel. You never shy away from speaking truth to me, but you speak it with such love and kindness that I have no choice but to listen. We have laughed together so hard that tears form in our eyes. We have fought over who gets the prettiest scarves. We have bargained for bangles and souvenirs. We have cried with refugees. We have wept and prayed over those who are dear to us. We have consulted with each other on medical matters. We have stabilized a man with a cardiac condition on a 14-hour flight across oceans and continents. We have shared fears and joys together. We have prayed for the impossible. 

You have almost admitted that I am the queen of bargaining. 

You are the first person I go to when I am hurting or mad, you have seen me at my lowest and worst, but you’ve still chosen to be my friend.

You know how to laugh with abandon and you love so many, so well. I am beyond blessed to call you my friend.

I will end with the best thing ever said to me on my birthday:

On the day you were born, God saw what he had made — And he called it “Good!”

I love you. Happy Birthday!

Blogger’s note: Two years ago my son Micah said to me “Mom I think blogging and writing has become the way you express love for people.” I was initially surprised, but quickly realized it’s true — this is indeed one of the ways I use to show people I love them.

11 thoughts on “To Carol on her Birthday

  1. Marilyn what a lovely ‘birthday present’ to a special sister. You and Carol are very deserving of each other and I know you know to appreciate such a close relationship with an in-law. I am fortunate to be able to say that if I blogged, I would be able to write a similar piece of love for my brother’s wife. Also, I love the colors of your scarves! I can just imagine you bargaining for items like that . . .oh queen!


  2. So..I have to tell you that I love you. I’m always curious when I write a piece for CAB which will be the bits you highlight. Where will you add italics or embolden the font? I always reread my posts to see the places you connected, the spots you were engaged. So….imagine my laughter when I read this piece of yours to the ever-lovely Carol (that I always wished to know from the wonderful things people say about her!) to see that you not only used italics but also bold when you noted, “You have almost admitted that I am the queen of bargaining!” Marilyn Brown Gardner!!! You crack me up!!!
    Happy Birthday, belated by now, I’m sure, dear Carol!


    1. haha! Feel absolutely free to decide what you want me to highlight! But if you want it to keep on being a surprise I am so happy to oblige! and of course being the queen of bargaining is very important.


  3. This is so beautiful! Can’t wait to see them when I get there in July. You are so gifted cousin o’mine!


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