Shortly after Ruby was born, my mom sent me a message — “have you heard the song ‘Wonder’ by Natalie Merchant? You need to listen to it now.” Being the dutiful daughter I am, I tracked down “Wonder” and gave it a listen. To say that I got goosebumps would be putting it mildly. I found myself sitting alone in my apartment, tears rolling down my face, sobs welling up inside of me as I listened to the words:
“Doctors have come from distant cities just to see me, stand over my bed disbelieving what they’re seeing. They say I must be one of the wonders of god’s own creation and as far as they can see they can offer no explanation.
Newspapers ask intimate questions, they want confessions. They reach into my head to steal the glory of my story. They say I must be one of the wonders of god’s own creation and as far as they can see they can offer no explanation.
I believe fate smiled and destiny laughed as she came to my cradle, “know this child will be able.” Laughed as my body she lifted, “know this child will be gifted” with love, with patience and with faith she’ll make her way.”
That last part really got to me: “know this child will be able.” Laughed as my body she lifted, “know this child will be gifted” with love, with patience and with faith she’ll make her way.”
“Could Ruby really be gifted and able? Will she make her way?” I asked myself. What was the definition of gifted and able anyway? What does it mean to make your way?
As the years have gone on, I have returned to this song time and time again, for relief, hope, faith. The lyrics soothe my soul and help me carry on when times are tough. They have helped me revise my definition of what gifted means and helped me remember to cling to love, patience and faith when I feel exhausted and incapable of moving forward.
I feel that in many ways, Ruby’s life has panned out exactly as the song goes:
“People see me; I’m a challenge to your balance. I’m over your heads; how I confound you and astound you to know I must be one of the wonders of god’s own creation, and as far as you can see you can offer me no explanation.
I believe fate smiled and destiny laughed as she came to my cradle, “know this child will be able.” Laughed as she came to my mother, “know this child will not suffer.” Laughed as my body she lifted, “know this child will be gifted” with love, with patience and with faith she’ll make her way.”
A few years ago (I think 2009), I desperately wanted to create a video about Ruby’s life and I knew that “Wonder” was the only song I wanted to use for it. Back then, I knew YouTube would block my video if I tried to use the song without getting permission, so I decided to contact Natalie Merchant herself. It was a pretty big stretch, but one I was willing to take. So off my email went. Before long, I had a reply from Natalie’s assistant, letting me know that Natalie herself had given me permission to use the song! Amazing. I was so inspired and excited. The only catch was, I had to get permission from the record label. Not an easy feat. I eventually gave up trying and used a different song. But I was still so amazed that Natalie herself had thought about me and Ruby!
Here is that video! The editing cracks me up as it’s pretty bad (Windows MovieMaker!) but there are lots of cute photos and videos of Ruby. I’m no longer updating that account, though, so please subscribe to us HERE!
I am so excited that this song is getting a huge resurgence of attention due to the movie, “Wonder.” Natalie is such a beautiful soul. She will always have a special place in my heart for giving voice to something not a lot of people were talking about back when “Tigerlily” came out in 1995 — acceptance of differences, the beauty in diversity, disabilities not equating to suffering, the belief that an unexpected life can be a blessed one.
I still choke up every single time I hear “Wonder.” It speaks directly to my soul. Thank you, Natalie.