Caroline’s Birthday, August 15, 1856

Friday, August 15, 1856

Today was the best day of my life! And the worst. When the sun peeked through the window next to my bed, my eyes popped open. I was nine years old. Old enough to decide some things for myself. Mama asked me what I’d like to eat for my birthday dinner. Without a second thought, I shouted, “Eintopf!”

I jumped out of bed, got dressed and ate breakfast quickly. Then out the door, down the stairs and off to school. I love school. My teacher, Miss Bach, knows more than anybody. Sometimes she asks me to stay after school to help her with something. That is the best. We talk, just the two of us. She is the only grownup who never treats me like a child.

At the end of the day, Miss Bach asked me to stay. As soon as the other students left, she said, “I  know it’s your birthday and I have a present.” She was smiling and her blue eyes sparkled.

“Caroline,” she said. (She always called me Caroline, never Carrie. She knew I hated to be called Carrie. Some boys at school called me Scary Carrie because I was smarter and knew more than they did. My name is Caroline, pronounced “Caro-leena with the accent on the “leena.”) She opened her bag and handed me a package. She said I could open it right away.  I think she was as excited as I was.

I unwrapped a beautiful book with smooth brown leather covers. Tagebuch was the title on the cover. What was the story inside? Eagerly I opened the book to find out. The pages were blank. Puzzled, I looked up at Miss Bach.

“Caroline, I love how your mind works. You watch what’s happening around you. You listen carefully and remember what you hear.  You have strong opinions about what you observe and experience. All of this comes out in your writing. You need a proper place to write down the thoughts you have in your head. You need a place to tell your story. I hope this helps.”

Tagebuch. My very own diary. I couldn’t stop thanking her, as I flung my arms around her to give her a huge hug. I couldn’t wait to show my diary to Mama, and Papa.  As I dashed for the door, I turned and told her this was the best birthday ever.