Dear little Sara,
The first thing I want to tell you is how loved you are. I sat, looking through photo albums and boxes full of memories and this time I started to note how everyone is holding you and looking at you – as though you are the only one who exists. Your baby book is an incredibly detailed love story, with every contraction your mother endured to bring you into the world recorded and carefully archived, as if your parents knew, from the moment you began as a blip in the world that girl, you are everything.
You see, that love and adoration was soaked up and imprinted on your very DNA. You are loved for merely existing. Your every move, every word, every skill gained was and is beside the point. Of course everyone clapped when you began to walk. They smiled when you said something clever. But the truth is, you ARE love. All the rest is extra.
The second thing I want you to know is that you are enough. I know, especially as you got a little older, there were times when the pressure to hold it all together was intense. I know that there were times when the internal voices screaming about injustices were unbearably loud, but they had to be ignored for your very survival. Even as I look at the pictures, I clench my jaw and worry all over again if I’m smiling too big or too small. Should I show teeth when I smile or not? What do people even think about when they smile for pictures? Am I holding the pose correctly? But you made your way through, escaped in books and your imagination, tried to be perfect, kept smiling, kept breathing, were loved, stayed human. And all of that: it. is. enough. YOU. are enough.
Here’s the last thing I want you to know: I got you, girl.
I know it’s hard to let go and trust. It’s been a lot of decades relying on those mechanisms that felt like they kept us safe. There were times along the way when we learned not to trust authority. Yet, here I am as grown-up me – the “authority” – asking you to trust me. Strange, isn’t it?
This hand pressed into my chest, feeling my heart beat is the same one that was beating during that first second you took a breath. We are the same, you and me. I still sometimes worry about how to smile for photos and so much of life has been about achieving and accomplishing and making a difference. And I’m proud of all of that – it has taken incredible endurance, resilience, and tenacity. But this soft, gentle well of love overflowing is the same love that exploded into being when your brand new eyes opened even before you had “done” a single thing. It is there regardless of achievement and accomplishment.
Here’s my promise: I’m listening to your small voice. You and I together are going to keep being that love. There will be days when the old stuff will come up and it’ll be hard to believe that love and completeness isn’t hinged on something else. But we’ve got four decades together and I trust you more than anyone.
You are love. You are enough. I got you. No strings attached.
Love, big Sara
P.S. Tomorrow is your birthday: do you think there will be 41 candles on the cake?