Aw, Lizzie Girl. Happy Birthday, my blue eyed girl.
It is one in the morning and the house is just settling down. I wonder how you will remember your early teenage years and the energy of this house. I wonder if you will remember the eve of your fourteenth year, when your dad took Luke and Elijah to a Slayer concert and returned to join William, Haley, You, and me at the dining room table … if you will remember laughter and that at the stroke of midnight, I said happy birthday. Will these memories fade and be replaced with more relevant ones?
When I look at that picture of us, I can hardly recall it being taken. You and I are sitting in Lolo’s house, the house that I dream about often, the house that you never really knew beyond that cuddle. I drove past that house two weeks ago. All of her gardening has died away, long forgotten, and the iron rod fence is still wrapped around the back porch. I was struck by how small the house seemed and how much I ached to go inside. I just want to open those kitchen cabinets one more time and see all of her pretty glasses. I just want to see her peonies and pick up apples from the ground in her backyard. I wonder what, if anything, will make you feel nostalgic about this house. I wonder if you will ever pull up to this house, sit in an idling car, and cry.
This is not a very cheery birthday letter, is it? I guess that is what happens when you are the daughter of a teacher and you have a birthday in May. May, for me, feels like I am racing with a gun to my head … AP exams, art shows, final projects, and now, silly me, a freelance job too. I am sorry that life has been so chaotic. The best thing about this chaos is that your volleyball tournaments allow us some much needed one on one time. Last weekend, Mother’s Day, you waited until I fell asleep in the hotel bed and then tied a letter to the bathroom door handle so that I would see it right away when I woke up. I love that letter writing has become a family tradition of ours. How lucky am I that you are such an amazing writer?
I am so proud of you, so envious of the courage you find to sing in front of the entire junior high, so impressed with the remarkable way you handle all of the challenges and setbacks of being an athlete. I just can’t believe your mine.
Whenever your birthday comes around, I think back to the three months of bed rest I was on prior to your birth. It was such a quiet time. The days were so long and so peaceful. I read books and Kim came over to teach me to knit. I made you the smallest sweater in the land. Right now I would give anything to have a long, sweet day like that, but I do love that the days that I did have were with you.
May fourteen be filled with light and love, and as you begin your high school years, may you continue to be the brave and fierce, witty and kind, girl that you are. Wait until the rest of the world sees what I see, kiddo. You are pure magic and I love you in a way that I could describe to you a thousand times over and you would still not quite understand it. It is a huge, deep love that makes my heart feel like the moon. It is a love that feels like home, that feels like heaven must, and that, at the thought of you growing up so quickly, does stomach flips. I am full of joy for the life you have ahead of you and so grateful to be part of your story.