To My Little Angel on Your First Birthday,
First, I must tell you how many times I've tried to begin to write to you about your first year of life and have failed, miserably, to do it without welling up with bursts of intense emotion over the love I never knew could be had for such a tiny little creature as yourself. But as it is, I will write through that emotion which has afforded me the greatest satisfaction of my lifetime: having and raising you.
It goes without saying that April 21, 2010 changed my life forever. We knew you'd be small but that little 4 lb. 12 oz. and 17.5" long body of yours was much stronger than we imagined. I was so glad and so proud that they never even had to take you to the NICU because I was just so anxious to hold you and keep you close to me, and that I did. I did as much as your Dad (and my own health) would let me because he, too, could not keep his hands off of you. And while we're on the subject, let me just tell you that you have a jewel of a father and that's the only way I would have it! Long before I met him, long before I learned of your beginnings, I told myself that only a certain kind of man would do as the father of my child. I did not know, however, exactly what that kind of man would be like but I knew for sure that my heart, soul and mind would speak to me when I did. When Travis Washington showed up I knew from the day we met that I wanted him in my life forever. In what capacity, though, I wasn't sure so we let time, space and God work their magic into what would prove to be the first great love of my life. In him I found a heart softer and gentler than my own--amongst other things--and something that I wanted duplicated in my future children. He is not perfect and neither am I, but through our perfect imperfections we helped create one of God's true perfections: miraculous human life.
So when they told us--upon our getting ready to leave the hospital days later--that you would have to stay in order to get your temperature back up to normal I thought I might lose it, but calmed under the idea that it was all for the betterment of your health. I never let one day go by without seeing you there bundled up in your little incubator with all the nurses doting on you. You were so cute and so sweet that part of me thought that they kept you there for that whole week just to have you to themselves! To this day when I drive by the entrance to the Neonatal Progressive Care Unit of the hospital I get teary eyed thinking about frantically but excitedly racing up there to catch you during feeding times, longing to kiss your little chunky cheeks.
And then you came home on Saturday, May 1 to our tiny little one bedroom apartment. But the size of our home did not match the amount of love and affection there waiting for you--then or to this day and for the rest of your life. One of the greatest gifts that we could ever give you is the large network of loving family surrounding you. I cannot promise you that your Dad and I will always be by your side. What I can assure you of is that you will always have someone to reach out to. Never forget that your family is the safety net of your life. You may not get along with us all completely, we will hurt you and you will hurt us, but in this large and sometimes unsettling world we are your one true certainty for that love that we all so desperately need to survive. You will have to find your own truths in life but this one truism I know for sure. I speak of life's uncertainties and sometimes-harsh realities with the belief that its journey is well worth every moment. Just remember to stop and really take it all in once in a while. I'm sure you'll find that you cherish the happy times and (should) forget the unhappy ones so you might as well stay happy and appreciate this wonderfully amazing life you have been given!
This past year has literally flown by! I wish I could've bottled up every memory from every day to keep forever because each one was so precious. I have been there with you every single day of your life thus far, watching you go from a little helpless bundle of skin and bones to a (with a little help) walking, talking miniature character of a person! One year and nine months ago you never even existed and now you're a live human being! You make me laugh every day with that 8-toothed ear to ear grin of yours. I must give you close to 2,000 kisses every day because you're just that sweet. Even when you woke up covered from head to toe in stinky baby poo as I was on my way out the door (late as usual!) it was one of the cutest things I have ever witnessed. To say you have changed my life for the better, my darling...words cannot begin to express. I never imagined a love so pure, so deep, so unimaginably unconditional. You, too have softened me to a mushy puddle of tears, so much so that I cannot go on! I think I will save the rest of this heavy emotion for the rest of your years to come! I try to imagine the boy and man you will become nothing ever comes to mind. Your future is so bright and beautiful and I think you will surprise us all! If this letter to you on your first birthday seems to be as much about you as it is about me...it 's because IT IS! This is a birthday for me too so let's celebrate! To you, my dear, and this beautiful life!