Technically your birthday was yesterday but you'll have to excuse me for the belated letter. We've been running around, you and I, trying to get ready for your birthday party this weekend and soaking up all this glorious springtime weather at the same time. Some things get pushed to the side when there are parks to explore and swings to swing on and rocks to examine.
It always seems fitting to me when your birthday week turns out this beautiful, as it has every year but one. Spring is about new beginnings and throwing off the blanket of winter that keeps us cold and contemplative for months on end. For me, your birthday is the beginning of a happy time where I can shrug off my sadness from losing those close to me and concentrate on celebrating you.
We lost your Grammy this year and I'll be sorely missing her presence at your birthday party. Last year she was only too eager to hold you on her lap as we all sat out in the sun and ate sweet cake. You were the last great grandchild she knew and the one she got to see the most. How she lit up whenever you were around. To say she was proud of you would not do her feelings justice.
It seems funny to say "lost" when what I mean is, well, she died. I know when you finally read this you'll have grasped the concept of death, maybe you'll have experienced the passing of a loved one once or twice as you grow, though I hope not, but for now the idea of death means nothing to you. Though you ask, oh how you ask, about the pictures I show you of my grandparents and my mom.
Where are they, Mama?
I never know what to say. Heaven? I don't know if I believe in such a place. I only know to tell you they're not here with us and before the tears come I change the subject. But you're getting smarter every day, it's amazing how intelligent you're becoming, and I know that soon I won't be able to avoid the subject. You'll push me for an answer, because that's what you do. I'll be glad for that someday.
But with death there needs to be a life, and that life is coming in just a few short weeks. I don't want to dwell on the sadness any longer because we've got even more to celebrate! You're going to be an older sister and life as you know it is going to change dramatically and for the better. It's a wonderful thing, having a younger sister to watch out for and boss around. Your Aunt and I are the best of friends and one of my wishes for you, on your third birthday, is to have such a relationship with your sister. Sisterhood is a wonderful thing, a special club that only girls can join. To be so connected to one person through family and blood and shared experiences will be one of the constants in your life. Make the most of it. Love your sister, help her learn and grow and I guarantee you, she will adore you. Having a sister is pretty cool.
And getting back to just you, my sunshine girl, you've had an amazing year. You've come so far from the baby you were and now you're a little girl. You run and jump and kick a soccer ball with amazing grace and ability. "Why" is, hands down, your favorite word. You're inquisitive almost to a fault. You have to know what everything is and where everyone is going and where they've been and, I have to admit, you exhaust me. I feel completely inadequate of your questions. We've both got a lot of learning to do.
You have the most empathetic soul. You feel so much that I'm almost afraid for you at times. You're sensitive in ways that confound me and tears come to you very, very easily. I want you to see the dog in the veterinary office who lost his eye and feel sympathy for him. I want you to notice another kid crying at the playground and have you comfort her. But I'm afraid you'll get lost in your sympathy for others. I want for you to feel all the care and love you possibly can, but I want that soft exterior to hide a steel spine and an iron will. You've got the will part down pat, we'll work on growing that spine together. Soon you will be able to embrace the world and all its problems with your strong, capable arms. You can do anything.
I couldn't possibly sum up all of your qualities in just one letter. Suffice it to say, I am in awe of you. And as many times as we butt heads, and so far that's been many times (To be frank, that butting heads is a problem lately. For example, you and I haven't exactly liked each other for the past few days, but I think we'll get over it.), we still find something to bring us back to common ground. When I lose my temper with you, or vice versa, you always find a way to calm the waters. You've got my quick temper, kid, and I'm sorry for that but I hope you also inherited your father's calm way of dealing with difficult situations. I've seen that side come out of you so there's hope yet.
This will be a tough year for the three of us, you, me and Dad. But I can't wait to see how much you'll grow and learn and change. It's extraordinary how far you've come so far, from my little Chicky Baby to this amazing girl you are becoming.
All my love to you,
Friday, April 18, 2008