It is the eve of your birth, twenty years later. Twenty. In four more hours your teenage years will be completely gone. Dust.
Did I ever tell you that when I was in fourth grade, we performed The Little Prince all in French? I was in the scene with the roses and I had to say je t’aime in front of Matt Miota. I had an enormous crush on 11 year old Matt Miota. He carried a comb in his back pocket and dated a girl named Maria. He was older than me. Damn those mixed age level classes. I (like the nine other little princes, one per scene) wore a white turtle neck and a green scarf. This was pre-digital cameras and pre-everyone-documenting-everything , so I don’t have a picture. You will just have to imagine that I looked like this:
The only words I remember from the entire play are je t’aime. I love you. You will be twenty and I don’t believe you have read The Little Prince yet. I was going to send it to you, but instead I sent you a book of Richard Brautigan poetry (“spinning like a ghost on the bottom of a top, I am haunted by all the space I will live without you.”).
Maybe it’s just because the Prince died this week that I started thinking about The Little Prince. I raced through my childhood … fourth grade, little fake prince telling three girls dressed like a giant rose that I loved them, all the way through seventh grade where shirtless Prince plastered the wall directly behind my adolescent pillow). Since you left for college, I still wear the shocked and puzzled gaze of a bulldog. Where on earth did time go? We used to have this teaching assistant on our playground (same year as my French debut) and her name was Ms. Audrey. She used to tell us to stop trying to grow up so fast and she would shake her head (wrapped in a plastic rain hat, even when sunny) at us when we tried to wear lipstick. She would plead, “Girls, Girls! Life goes so fast. Drop the lipstick and go play.” We thought she was crazy.
Yet here were are. Twenty.
I am still so madly in love with you. Sometimes when I put Quinn to bed and he is all cozy from his bath, I press my face against his wet hair and try to just squeeze the memory into my heart because I know … I know from watching you grow, that five really doesn’t last forever. I asked him tonight, “Do you know how old Luke will be tomorrow?” He replied, “Man.” Knocked the wind right out of me (“son of man look to the sky, lift your spirit, set it free”). As a young man, you are still so full of invitation energy. You are a joy to be around and your enthusiasm for life, your eagerness to share your journey is just a magnet to all of those around you. I could not be prouder to be your mom.
The little prince loves his rose because of the time he spent caring for her. The rose basically is a symbol for love and here, we are meant to know that love comes from investing in other people. Tonight, on the way to volleyball (AGAIN), Lizzie asked me if having kids is worth it. “It kind of seems like it ruins your life,”she said. She is fifteen. All I can tell you is that you are my rose. Every single minute of you has been worth it.
I am no longer in the scene with the rose. Now, I am the fox. The fox lets the Little Prince go (spoiler, I know) even though it is heartbreakingly hard. Before he leaves though, Fox tells him: “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Some people spend their entire lives trying to figure that out. You? You have known since the very beginning. Continue to live life through your heart. I know that you carry your worry in your stomach … let your heart win. Let your heart untangle your knots. I love you. Happiest of all birthdays to you, your first one away from home.