I feel like things are moving at lightning speed right now, like we’re barreling forward to bigger, faster things – summer camps, middle school, eleven. When I look at you these days (and I look at you a lot, even when you don’t realize it), I realize how quickly you are growing. You collapse into giggles on a regular basis – even for the silliest things, like making eyeglasses out of rubberbands – and I want to bottle up that sound and hold it close to me. I’ve missed your laugh and I’m glad it has returned. I want to bottle everything up – wrap ten up in a neat little package, safe and protected and with me.
I write you these notes on each birthday and each midpoint in between. When you hit the halfway mark last week it triggered so very many emotions within me. I’ve thought and thought about all the things you’ve dealt with over the past six months – how you’ve had to navigate new waters while the rest of us were doing our very best to stay afloat. You have told me, in your own way, how difficult it has been to understand the loss of someone just like you. I have tried (and likely failed) to tell you how hard this is for me – as your mom, watching you face those fears. I would give anything to be able to tell you that I will always keep you safe. It breaks my heart that I told you that for years, but now that promise rings hollow in your ears. I’m not ready for this yet. I’m still fragile and anxious, and just not ready.
But you are. You are ready for anything, anything at all. Everything about you blows me away. I draw strength from your creativity and your curiosity and your drive. I draw comfort in your presence and your stillness and the feel of your arms around me. I have known, since the day that you were born, that this venture would be equal parts pain and joy, and I’m grateful for all the many ways that you magnify those joys. You are so, so loved.
Happy birthday, my sweet girl.