Dear Emily June,
I have been writing you letters on your birthday since you were very small. But this year seems different. I usually write a letter that will help me to remember what it was like the year you were five or the year were two. But this year, the year you were seven, I don’t think it will take any remembering. Not because it was unforgettable or because I took a million pictures. It is simpler than that.
I don’t think I will struggle to remember the year that you turned eight because I think you have become the person that you’ll be for good. Things will change. You will grow up and fall in love and drive a car and flunk a test and get a job and make mistakes. Things will happen to you. Layers will form on top of this person that you are right now. But who you are – Emily June. I know her. She’s here to stay.
You will be eight tomorrow. And some day you will be nine and then ten. But you will always be Emily June. You will always have a little dimple in your cheek. You will always have a little sister that adores you. You will always make me laugh like no one else. You will always know just exactly what to say when I am blue. You will probably always obsessively organize your shoes before you clean up anything else when you pick up your room. You will always love crunchy peanut butter.
All week you have asked me if I am sad that you are turning eight. “Do you think I look a little bit old in these pants?” You shake that tiny heiny in front of your mirror and I watch you watch yourself. “Nope, I think you look a lot bit crazy.”
I like to give you a little piece of motherly advice on your birthday. It seems like the thing to do. Through the years I have told you to dream big and love fiercely. I have praised your strength and your kindness. I have told you time and again that you are funny because good god almighty, kid, you are a riot. This year I am at a loss. Not because I think my advice would fall on deaf ears, quite the opposite. You want so desperately to please. You’d move mountains if you thought it was expected of you. This year I just want you to be you.
I want to tell you to just keep on keeping on, kiddo. You are better at being Emily June than I could ever be. I’m going to do my damnedest to keep my mouth shut through the next decade. But if you are trying to make a decision and you need need to be reminded what Emily June would have done that summer right before she was eight – you just ask me, ok? Because I will never forget.
Happy birthday, sweet girl. I love you.
Keep it up, kid.