Today is Valentine's Day and you are 20 months old. I told your dad last week that, in no uncertain terms, I'm not interested in Valentine's Day. I reminded him again this morning.
No flowers or cards, okay? I didn't get you anything.
Of course, I added, if you're into it then I can make a bigger effort.
No that's fine, he said. I know you love me.
It's not that I don't believe in love, or romance for that matter. I definitely do. It's just that I'd rather do it on my own terms. Love is a big deal, kiddo. But it should come when you're ready and when you're open to it. My favorite Valentine's Day was the year my mom gave me a hot pink hair dryer. Now that was love.
A few years later when I was 18, mother wrote the following in a letter to me:
You said the other night, "Mom, don't let me marry a jerk." You'll meet so many men, will attract them like flies. You have that shy sweetness that men love. Don't marry anyone because of money, name, class, need of any kind.
Be so much in touch with who you are and what you really want — then it will happen, your complement will appear. Find yourself and you'll find your other self. Give each other space and respect. There can be no tiny, nagging doubt. The Italians have a name for it which I adore but have forgotten…but it's likened to being struck by a lightening bolt when you meet.
Accept nothing less. (Right. Nice idea though, huh?)
Have babies which I can take care of. Please choose a man who adores you and would never hurt you. But you also have a lot of other huge stuff to do in your life and I think it will take a lot of time to sort it all out.
I hope I know you well enough to write something like this to you one day. If I don't, or if I never get the chance, please accept the wise words above from your grandmother. They're good words. And she was right.
A few years after she was gone I was in Italy, and I asked around about that phrase, the one about being struck by lightening when you meet. Colpe di fulme, I was told. A few years after that I found that my mother had been right, about everything she wrote.
I met your father at the end of a really magical time in my life. I'd spent a period of months really getting to know myself, deeper than I ever had. At the very moment I felt the most me I'd ever felt in my life, your father appeared, and when I met him it was just like she said it would be: Like being struck by a bolt of lightening. I just knew.
Oh, I thought when I saw him, it's you.
We were standing in baggage claim at O'Hare airport. It was a warm May weekend, and in that very instant I realized that my whole life I'd been looking for someone and he was suddenly standing before me. I didn't even know until I saw him that I'd been looking in the first place.
I hope you find great love, my dear. Listen to your grandmother. Get to know yourself deep down where no one else knows you. Find yourself, you'll find your other self.
Also know that your grandmother would have adored you. She would have loved to take care of you, just like she said in her letter to me. I wish she'd gotten the chance. I'm just so glad that she left these letters for me and you to share.
Happy Valentine's Day, little one.
p.s. Your great grandmother (my dad's mom) was born on Valentine's Day! She was also the first female sheriff in the state of Michigan. Obviously we'll have to talk about that another time.