Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Letter to My Oldest, On the Occasion of Her (Belated) Birthday

I remember it.  

I distinctly remember that day at the end of April, and the 9 long months that went before it.  

I was young, barefoot and in a yellow cotton dress, and you, well, you were snuggled up there tucked under my rib-cage right below my heart.

I remember the first day that I realized that I was pregnant.  I was elated, overjoyed, and super excited.  And the funny thing is that I wasn't even scared.  I was ready for this new challenge, ready to tackle whatever it was that life would throw my way.

But like I said before, I was young.  

You were my first, and while I remember certain details of each of your siblings' births, it is yours that is buried the most deeply in my brain.  It is your birth, and your infancy that I remember every year when I wake up with the sun to the smells of spring and the songs of the birds.  It is you I remember nursing in the wee hours, no matter who it is that I am currently rocking back and forth in the dark.  

I remember  your big feet and your crazy shock of hair that stuck up off your head like a cocks-comb. I remember seeing you playing on the floor sometimes and just reaching over to pick you up just because you were you and you were mine.  I remember how I cried and called my dad the first time I cut your hair when you were 3 because it felt like such a milestone.   I remember your first day of preschool, and your last.  

And then things got complicated.  We moved to Hawaii, and then back.  And you stayed with your grandparents, and then here with me.  And we went through really hard times, and we went through really great times.  And I know sometimes it might not have felt like it, but you were always on my mind and first in my heart.  And sometimes I didn't realize that what I was doing hurt you or made you sad. 

But like I said, I was young. 

And then we grew up fast, you and I.  Jo was born, and then in quick succession, Gabriel, Jesse and Hazel Grace, 

and suddenly, I'm not so young, 

and neither are you.

And sometimes, no, often, I look back on some of the decisions that I made, and I cringe at the selfishness of them even though they were not intended to be selfish.  I never meant to hurt you or make you feel alone, I was just trying to survive...get by...and find my way in this world.  

So I guess in a way, we grew up together

Which isn't really the way it's supposed to be, and I'm sorry for that.  

But now I see you, a talented young lady, with the world in front of you, and I would be a fool to deny that who you are is a product of the life you've lived, and I can't help but be proud of you.

You are who you are mostly not because of me or anything I've done, but rather, to a great extent, in spite of me and everything I've done.  

So here you are, at the brink of adulthood, and I feel the time that I have with you slipping through my fingers like so much sand in an hourglass.  

And the Littles feel it, too.  As much as Jo wants to take over your room and your iPod, she's going to miss you like crazy.  And who's going to find Jesse's shoes?  And who's going to tease Gabriel like you do?  And who's going to play the guitar with Hazel Grace?  

And Daddy?  Well, let's just not go there.  I don't care how grown you may think you will get, you will always be his little girl...and don't you forget it.  

And so you can sigh, and you can roll your eyes and you can 'Moooommmm' me as much as you want.  I'm clinging to these last years that I have with you, and there's pretty much nothing you can do about it.



But that's because you are beautiful, you are talented, you are intelligent, and you, my dear, 

My Elizabeth, 

Flesh of my flesh and heart of my heart, 

You are loved.  

Happy birthday.  

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