Dear Vera & Jules,
It’s Christmas afternoon in Los Angeles, warm and sunny, and there is still sand between my toes from our walk on the beach today. You both woke up promptly at 6AM, excited to see what Santa brought for you, and if he liked the cookies you made for him, and Vera you swore up and down all day that you heard Rudolph noisily eating the carrots we left out for him in the middle of the night.
Under the tree was a new bicycle, and a toy kitchen I spent several painful hours building this week, as well as dozen of little toys. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love giving you presents and this year I made an attempt to give you things that would enrich you and help you grow (art supplies and interesting books), and as well as the things that I knew you really wanted. I have to say it was actually most gratifying to watch you open the things I knew you were hoping to unwrap.
Jules, for weeks every time we go to Target you’ve planted yourself in front of this box that includes two little babies with a set of bunk beds. This morning when you opened it up you screeched, “babies!” and clutched them to your chest like as though they were already your most prized possessions. It was such a simple thing to buy you, but knowing that in that moment you probably felt really seen, like someone had noticed this thing you so wanted, gave you (and me) more than any enriching puzzle ever could.
Vera you got all the Barbie and My Little Pony stuff you had begged for all month, and I know you felt happy and seen as well. But it was actually watching you take on your unexpected gift, the new big girl bike your Dad picked out for you, that really made my heart swell. It was the thing you came around to last, after playing thoroughly with ALL of your other toys, but then you rode all the way down to the end of the block and back, your little sister watching with wide-eyed admiration.
Witnessing your relationship blossom has been the true highlight of this year for me. The bond between you two has utterly changed the way I view the world and relationships and love. You were born for each other, and the love you share is something that will stand apart from all other experiences in your lifetimes. I truly think much of the time that you will always be okay, as long as you have each other. Even if something were to happen to me or your dad, the two of you would forge together even closer to take on the world. And you’re going to take it on anyway.
Watching you together gives me a strange peace that I never had before Juliette came into our lives. I was always fretting about you, Veronica, about what would happen if I wasn’t there with you for every second. But now that has shifted. Although we are just as close as ever, Juliette has become your true touchstone. You look out for her with everything that you do, always including her, thinking of her, showing her love and affection. It fills me up like nothing else in this world ever has.
Speaking of the two of you having each other, I’m writing this letter an hour before a taxi arrives to take me to the airport so that I can get on an airplane to Indonesia. Tomorrow morning you will get on your own plane with your dad and head to Ohio to see your grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, and we will be farther apart than we ever have been before.
I can’t lie. To travel this far away from you almost drives me to my knees with apprehension. But I also know it’s something I need to do, and something that will be good for all of us in the long run. I know that the two of you will have a ball with your cousins, be doted on more than you can imagine by your grandparents, and that your dad will take perfect care of you because he always does.
And I will fill this need in me that I can never seem to deny. This thirst for the world and adventure and distance and all things unexpected. It’s what makes me who I am, it’s the pulse that courses through me. It’s what makes me tick, what makes me ache, and what gives me peace.
But listen, while I’m gone, I want you to know that I’ll be thinking of you every single second. You are both part of me. You came out of my body and the love I have for you girls is boundless. It defies space and time and life and death. It transcends any boundary you could ever imagine.
I read a line in a poem once that said, “Think of me as every place,” and that’s what I want you to do. For the rest of your lives. No matter how far apart we are, even in death one day, I will always love you. I will always be with you. And you will always be with me.
Okay, so in eight days we’ll all meet back here in the land of endless sunshine, and we’ll snuggle for hours and tell each other all about all of our adventures.
p.s. Vera, I know I promised to bring home a pet monkey for you, but I was lying. Trust me, you don’t really want one anyway.