I can't remember now how it happened or when exactly, but somewhere in the midst of summer after high school graduation, an Irish musical called Finian's Rainbow, the dramatic break-up with my high school boyfriend (as it only should be), and the craziness of freshman year of college looming, Marissa and I became BEST friends.
Riss and I drank CHEAP, PINK wine, sang musical theatre in our cars together at the top of our lungs, slept in one another's beds more often than our own, celebrated holidays and 21st birthdays together with loads of laughter and really bad cocktails, and often day dreamed about the day we would become famous together- on Broadway, of course.
When the time came to move to Tampa and transfer to USF to study theatre, Riss and I were inseparable. Not only were we best friends, but now we were also roommates! Roommates studying theatre together in the "big city!"
The next decade or so looked like this:
Riss married Ken, an amazing actor and I was thrilled to stand by her side as her Maid of Honor at her theatre themed wedding. I began a career in television while Marissa went back to school to become a CPA. Ken and Marissa had two beautiful babies and each time she told me, I cried with happiness. I met and married Jeremy. Riss and Ken were at the wedding and I spent the majority of our reception talking with her in the hallway (some things never change). Riss and Ken moved to Ohio just when Jeremy and I decided to begin trying to have our first baby, so Marissa and Ken drove over all their baby furniture and clothes and gave them to us.
Life was good.
Here's the thing though, it's easy to be friends when life is good. It's fun, it's safe. But when life hits you hard, that's when you find out what your friends are really made of, and for this lucky girl, Marissa Nelson is made of iron.
Marissa was one of the first people I called when we got the news that we wouldn't be able to have children biologically. She was sad but she was also so strong. She always made me feel validated in my fears and frustrations no matter how small. And, maybe best of all, could make me laugh even when I was sobbing.
She was also one of the first people I told when we began to hear God calling us to adopt and she was so joyful. But not only that, she went to work figuring out how we can make this happen. She assured me that no matter the cost, we would figure it out. I was going to be a mom. Jeremy was going to be a dad. We were going to finally be a family.
Soon after she called to tell me she nominated me for an award from an organization called TogetHer Rising.
Below is an excerpt from her nomination essay:
My wish for Tara is that she could know the joy of being a Mama. For years Tara and her wonderful husband Jeremy have struggled with infertility. Month after month I have heard the despair in her voice, and felt powerless to help. Amazingly, month after month she has leaned on her faith and found hope within herself again. I am so excited that Tara and Jeremy recently decided to pursue adoption. The thought of them being matched with their baby and starting their family fills me with joy. And when I saw the call for nominations on Momastery, I thought to myself Finally! I can do something to help this beautiful dream come true! Which is why I am writing this nomination, asking you to please consider helping my lovely friend to share her love with her own child, just as she does for so many other children every day. I truly feel that Tara is the perfect pick for TogetHer Rising, because by helping her to adopt you will not only bring joy to Tara, but also to her family, her new baby, and all those around her. It will be the perfect example of “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
It might not seem like much compared to the large amount we still need to raise, BUT, believe it or not this card came in the mail the day before an unexpected adoption cost. That cost was $200 and they took American Express. Little by little our baby is getting closer to coming home and we have people like Marissa Nelson to thank. I love you, Riss and I am so lucky to call you my friend.