To Mae, on your third.
My darling girl,
How is it that three years span between now and the night you were born, a night that is as vivid to me as it is foggy? You barely made it to the thirty-first; it was nearly the thirtieth, and I wanted it so badly to be the thirty-first because that was your due date. I was also born on my due date.
I want to tell you something first that strikes me as particularly beautiful. It’s that the way you love and choose and delight in and obsess over and greet and touch and call out for your father is something that has brought him a great deal of healing. For a man who wrestles always, at some level, with sadness, to have a precious pint of a daughter, who is as beautiful as the sun, seek him first in the day, in the crowd, in the family, in the house, is invaluable. I thank God for the access you have been granted to daddy’s heart and core, because you are a unique balm to him in a way that even I cannot be.
He reminds me, when I’m exasperated with your shockingly strong will, that you have the personality for which I hoped. I wanted you, a girl, a future woman, to be strong and courageous. You have fallen, running full speed, on your knees, face and hands on cement, and popped up undeterred. You are never afraid to look a stranger in the eye and say hello. You walk toward large animals, machinery, strange situations without hesitation. I remember at the zoo this year, the way you plunged your little fist of lettuce into the giraffe’s mouth, his head as big as your body, his black tongue as long as your arm. You want to do every single thing by yourself, you nearly detest having help, and I know it’s because you take such pleasure in your independence. These are qualities I wanted for you, knowing how much they will bolster you in your future years. But, incredibly, you are also very tender. You love to tuck your little body into the corner of my arm and ribcage, to always scoot closer and closer, to burrow your forehead into my chest. I often think of you grown-up. I imagine you moving through life with this courage and strength, this sense of humor, this grit, this tenderness, and I’m encouraged. I don’t worry about you, honestly.
I can’t believe two is over for you, and for me. I’m so terribly proud of you, Mae-belle. So awfully bound up in love for you,
With such joy at all I have in you,