It’s been my good luck to have known you from the minute you were born. It’s been—there are no other words—a blessing to live close enough to see you sometimes, to watch you grow up into the well-grown, smart, loving, sweet, adorable, beautiful, appreciative, hard-working woman you’ve become.
When you were little and I was crazier than I am today, I was afraid you’d figure that out eventually, and wouldn’t like me. Then, when you were six, you came to visit me in San Francisco, the time we went for our walk and you found that stick and pretended to be the Wise Woman of the Yahi Tribe, and then we met Akhenaten the Savannah cat on his leash. It was the first time you’d been to my house.
You know most of this story, but I think there are bits I never told you.
The gate opened while I had my sprained ankle in ice water, then you were running around the corner of the house, then standing with your face against my sliding glass door, looking in.
You saw me drying my foot on the couch. You were small for your age, and had to reach up to grab the door handle, and pull with your entire body to open it. I have a picture of you doing that, in my head.
You ran in and leaped on me. You wrapped your arms and legs around me and squeezed your old auntie. You probably squeezed some tears out of me.
Your mama came in then, saw us, and just stopped. We looked at each other over your shoulder.
You made me feel redeemed. Redeemed for all my wickedness and flakiness as an alcoholic. I felt like, if this little kid can choose me like this, love me like this, maybe I have a chance at being a decent human being. I was three years sober, and I cannot describe the stability these thoughts and feelings gave to me then.
Since then, every time I’ve seen you has been, on some level, a repeat of that visit. You always loved me, wanted to be with me, to have time alone with me, to do things together. Love, unearned, unquestioned, for me.
In a very large sense, you are one of a few people who taught me how to show love to others, because I didn’t really know how before you came along and showed me.
As a teenager, I don’t think you rolled your eyes at me once. If you did, I didn’t see it. Now you’re eighteen. We don’t know what happens next. It’s very exciting.
It’s been a privilege to be a part of your life. I am so lucky I’ve lived close enough to do so. Thank you for sharing your eighteenth birthday with me. I loved every minute I was there.
I love you so.
ps: I love this series of pictures of you and your mama.
I eventually get some really great pictures, even if I can’t always focus the camera.