My Dearest Daughter,
Eighteen years has flown by so fast. Eighteen years ago you made me a mama for the first time. Of course, it started long before that. I have always wanted a daughter. That I have three is a flowery teacup overflowing with joy, dollhouse furniture, and nail polish. The best sort of companionship comes from daughters.
As my sister reminded me last night, you were a gift to us all. Your grandma passed away at the shocking age of 45 and left us all in an emotional wilderness, trying to fight our way back to joy and wholeness. We intended to wait until both your Dad and I had finished graduate school before expanding our new little family. I had a year and half of experience under my belt as a lawyer, but since this was a career change for Dad, he had a year and a half of pharmacy school still to go. God knows best. When I told your grandfather that I was pregnant but it wasn’t in my plan, that father of eight laughed and told me that if you wait until the perfect time to have kids, you will probably never have them.
You were a soothing balm to our soreness of heart and a breath of hope in that wilderness of grief. To me, to your dad when his father passed away just before you were born, to both of your grandparents left here alone, and to grieving aunts and uncles, as young as eight years old. That is why I call you my Little Wing.
I have plenty of experience with kids. I am the oldest of eight, after all. But there was always something different about you. You are special and not only because you are mine. You have been the most pleasant, most companionable, most delightful child I have ever come across. Daughter, you are genuine and wise. You are generous and forgiving. You get along with anybody, but have no insecure need to be loved by everybody. And you are a fearless maniac when it comes to adventure. But you understand fear and anxiety. You taught me to love rollercoasters. You got me started driving the highway again. Loving you and knowing you makes me a better person.
You have the wildest dreams and ambitions. I love that about you. I was born with a “get it done” personality. Whether we are collaborating on your project or mine, you are fun to work with. We make a good team. I know I nag. But you know you need it.
I had planned to go back to work full time after you were born. I am a practical person and there is no sense “wasting” the hard work and exorbitant price of a law school education. All of that flew out the window the moment I saw your enormous, intelligent eyes watching my every move. I decided right then and there to take advantage of every moment with this best of humans. I knew that you could only make my life richer, fuller, and more precious.
And I didn’t miss a day. In the final analysis, I came as close to making every minute count as humanly possible. I have no regrets. I am shooting my first arrow. You are luminous in a shadowy world. I raised you to pierce the gloom. The gloom may find that painful. Be understanding, but don’t be sorry about that. You are remarkable. I raised you to go back into Socrates’ cave and rescue the prisoners. They won’t appreciate it. Don’t lose heart. Walk with the purposefulness of Odysseus, the faithfulness of Ruth, the goodness of Alyosha, the cleverness of Robin Hood, the perseverance of Paul, the tenderness of Sancho Panza, and the self reflection of Hamlet.
It’s just fine if you never quite fit in. You are a world changer. But probably not in the way you think right now. The world is changed in small ways, so be faithful in the little things. George Mueller, Amy Carmichael, and John Bunyan were first faithful in a hundred small things before they were tasked by the hand of God with big responsibilities.
So my brilliant, kind, generous, brave daughter, as you swim with eels and sharks, and jump from an airplane to commemorate your eighteenth birthday, remember that this number means only that I love you all the more for having reached adulthood with honor, trustworthiness, and purpose. Continue to walk with the wise, in grace and truth.
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