This one’s personal…a graduation letter to my daughter that I never intended to post. But then it occurred to me that these reflections and recollections (some of them found in an old journal) might inspire you to record some of your own.
Such a monumental time in the life of such a monumental girl (funny, I kept typing “momumental”), which must be why this letter has been hard for me to write. I meant to write to you for your 18th birthday! The thought has been overwhelming – so hard to face the depth of my feelings about my little girl growing up.
“I love you aalllll the best.”
I discovered this in an old journal. Apparently, you said those words to me regularly when you were 2. You were certainly mirroring the love I had for you then, have now, and will always have.
But I don’t just love you — I have never admired anyone more. I would be proud to call you a friend or even an acquaintance. Honestly, I’m a little thrown to be the mother of a person like you. You deeply inspire me. And make me look really good.
You are a loving daughter, friend and teacher. You are unforgettable to anyone who has ever come in contact with you. Every moment with you is etched on my heart. These come to mind…
What baby loves restaurants? You did. Our once-a-week (at least) dinners together were some of my most memorable times with you. We talked. We joked. You always rose to the occasion, and we were at our best together — buddies. Strangers were impressed by the joy and intimacy they observed between a mom and her baby and often told me so. We had traditions. One was repeatedly playing our two favorite songs on the jukebox at the Coral Beach Cantina: “La Bamba” and “Here Comes the Sun.”
Music was always a mutual high for us. One of the first songs that I remember soaring to with you besides “La Bamba” and “Here Comes The Sun” was “We Three Kings” from one of our Christmas tapes. We listened to that zillions of times and not just during the holidays. There was a glorious instrumental bridge that always inspired me to scoop you up and dance with you in my arms. I remember when Dad’s Cousin Tom had been visiting us once and was just leaving, and after he walked out the door I turned on the music, picked you up and started dancing. Then he returned having forgotten something and caught us. He looked surprised, smiled, made a polite and hasty exit.
There were many other songs we rocked to over the years. Whether we were at home or in the car I’d always crank up the volume. “She’s So High Above Me”, “Ironic”, “2,000 Miles“, to name a few. A year or two ago, I remember you telling me that you looked forward to having your own car so you could blast music on the stereo. Wonder who you got that from.
Asking my advice and sharing your pain
I hate it when you’re hurting, but I’m incredibly touched and flattered when you share your difficulties with me. I don’t have the same access to you I did when you were small, and that’s okay, but when you let me in once in a while I feel reconnected and realize again how completely I adore you — how proud you make me.
Wow. You may not even know how much you helped me when I shared a painful professional situation with you and you said, “You should be angry.” By being so clear and perceptive, you gave me access to a feeling that I don’t easily recognize or allow myself to feel. In that moment you were not only a great friend but like a parent to me.
Another wow. When you were asked to get up at church in front of everyone and share your plans and hopes on High School Senior Day, how did you get the idea to spend most of your time thanking all the parishioners for being so welcoming all these years? Where do you get these incredible instincts, this amazing poise, graciousness, spirituality? Even Ms. Bowles said to me afterwards, “She will never disappoint.” No kidding!
I had forgotten these secrets you told me when you were 2 and was excited to find them in the journal…
“In my bed, when I close my eyes, I see angels and they protect me… You know what?” Charlotte asked conspiratorially.
“They sleep in beds.”
“Yes”, she answered, suddenly whispering. “And do you know what color they are?”
“No, they’re purple,” she said with quiet conviction, “and their covers are purple, too.”
“Their covers. Everything is purple. And the angels in my room, they protect me…so I don’t get lost” She paused and then asked, “Do your angels protect you?”
“Yes…yes, they do.”
Since I know you’ll continue to be in close contact with angels, I won’t worry about you in college…much, but I’ll think of you constantly.
And I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you loving me “all the best”. I’ll feel blessed, honored to be there whenever or however you might need or want me. Those will be high points of my life. So, please, keep them coming.
I made another discovery in the journal, yet another thing you told me often when you were two…“I want to keep you.” Charlotte, those are my sentiments…exactly.
In order to dance La Bamba
In order to dance La Bamba
You need a little bit of grace
A little bit of grace
For me, for you, ah up, ah up
Ah, up, up
For you I will be, for you I will be, for you I will be…
While I was writing this, Charlotte happened to be out buying a graduation dress in a color I haven’t seen her wear since she was small. Guess.