I’m writing this letter a few days before your third birthday. I want to write it now in case the baby comes soon and life gets too crazy to write you a proper birthday letter. Yesterday the doctor said she thinks it will come this week, and it seems you really might just get a sibling for your birthday.
I’ve been laying down with you each night and holding you close until you fall asleep. It’s not what we usually do — rather your routine consists of story-time and kisses and hugs, and then your mom and dad retreating to the living room while you yell all manner of excuses about why you don’t want to go to sleep for at least twenty minutes until you finally conk out mid-sentence. But lately I can’t help snuggling with you until you fall asleep in my arms, your breathing deep and soft, your little body warm against mine. I can feel this time between us running out and I want to savor every drop of it. By this time next week we’ll have another little body between us and everything will be different.
I can’t believe you’re turning three. These last years with you have been some of the deepest and most love-filled of my entire life. They’ve been utterly filled with chaos and hardship and frustration and fear too, but overall, they have contained this oceanic sense of love. You have filled me up like I’ve never been filled before, kiddo. You’ve ripped me open and mended me back up, creating a woman both stripped bare of herself and more authentic than ever before.
That’s my birthday wish for you, sweet child. That you know this kind of love in your life. I know you know it now — so many of us do in childhood, but somehow it fades and must be recreated and found all over again as an adult. You’ll be shocked by what gets left behind as you grow older, and all that you must do to find yourself and heal your heart again as you move forward into life. My wish though, is that you never waver on how much your father and I love you. Even if it’s the kind of knowing that’s so deep it’s practically unknown. No matter what happens, no matter how far any of us travel in our lives, I wish for you to feel endlessly buoyed by the love we have for you.
In this last year you have become more you than ever before. We celebrated your second birthday days after arriving in California, amidst friends and palm trees and a ridiculous mermaid cake that I made. Over the last twelve months you have grown immeasurably. Your limbs are bronze from the sun, your hair golden, the beach your familiar haven. You have very serious opinions, your mother’s rebellious streak and your father’s sense of humor. You sleep in a real bed, go to school, use the toilet and insist on dressing yourself in the most fantastic combinations of dresses and accessories. You have a best friend (Zoe) and even a crush (Leo). You like to water the plants, love being in charge of our cat Foster (re: dressing him in tutus), have recently begun washing the dishes (you’re not very good), and you refuse to eat any vegetables.
I am so, so proud of you, kitten. Whenever I tell you this, you place your hand on my cheek and whisper that you’re proud of me too, and you should know that there hasn’t been anyone since my parents died who can tell me that, and make it feel as meaningful as you do.
Thank you for these last three years. I look forward to decades more, to watching you grow and change and become the fierce, young woman you are already so intent on becoming. You simply astonish me.
Happy birthday, Veronica.