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Dear Emily June,

Seven.  I remember being seven.  My best friend when I was seven is still one of my best friends.  Seven is kind of a big deal.

I asked you last night while we ate your birthday dinner (pizza from I Love NY Pizza) what you would tell someone if they were turning six.  Your advice for all those about to be six “You’re gonna have a great time.  You will love school!” You are a happy girl.  You’re emotional and dramatic like your mother but for the most part you are joyous.

I worried when you were little.  I was not in the best place in my head and heart and you were a screamy baby.  I worried that your screaminess was my fault.  You and I were always together and I feared you would absorb my sensitive nature and my general state of unhappiness.

Your screamy days passed as the winter turned to spring but you were still so very serious.  You were kind of an intense little person.  I took a series  of headshots of you once in an effort to get a picture of your elusive smile.  Someday you will appreciate how much they resembled Nick Nolte’s famous mug shot.

It didn’t take long before your seriousness faded.  Once you could walk (at a precocious  ten months) you started to dance.  And once you could dance you never stopped.  You were in constant motion.  Your teeny little bird frame became a toddler’s body and your smile was overwhelming.

You became a tiny little lady, my sidekick, my playmate.  The time between your first and third birthdays was hard for me.  You gave me strength.  And so very many laughs.

And now you are seven.  Seven going on seventeen, they say.  But like so many trite sayings I fear it may be true.  I tried to get your picture yesterday morning. You were smiling at me and then assumed the position of “fed up pre-teen” as soon as I pointed the camera your way.

I had hoped to say something clever to you on your birthday.  True to form I had no plan as I ran up the stairs to your bedroom yesterday morning.  Something would come to me.

I opened your bedroom door expecting to see you getting dressed.  Your light was already on.  You were crouched on the floor by your Legos.  “Whatcha doing?” I asked you.


I knelt down next to you and took you in my arms.  And the tears came.  “Just playing, huh? Happy birthday, baby girl.  You can be my baby for one more year, right?”

Ever indulgent, you hugged me tight. “When I am not a baby anymore, Mom, Lucy will still be your baby.”

I didn’t answer you.  I do my level best not to pick fights with you in the morning before school.  But make no mistake, kiddo.  You will always, always be my baby girl.

Happy birthday, sweetheart.  Keep smiling.





Happy Belated Birthday, Emily June

November 15, 2005

Dear Emily,
Today I put this little poem in a frame for you and I am going to hang it in your room. I started this project when I was pregnant with you. I would sit in the chair in the living room after a long day at work, put my feet up and cross-stitch to keep me busy and keep me from worrying about when you would arrive. As your birthday got closer and closer I cross-stitched feverishly in an effort to get it finished before you were born. As it turned out I was not nearly done when you arrived. This turned out to be a blessing. When you were just about a month old I realized that I could nurse you and cross-stitch right over your tiny, perfect little head. My arm would rest against your itty-bitty little shoulders. We sat for hours while you nursed and slept across my lap.

Working on my project late in to the night, both before you were born and after, I would picture myself as a mom, a real mom. In doing this I couldn’t help but think about my mom, your grandmother. When I was little she was always hard at work on a million projects, never just sat down and relaxed. Even when she sat down she was knitting, quilting, sewing something for one of the kids or for our home. Not until I found myself doing the same thing for you did I really understand.

Loving you is all consuming. I can’t just sit and relax even when you are fast asleep. I want to keep my love for you in action. I could never demonstrate the depth of my emotion for you, never put in to words the way you touch me. Through these projects, the cross-stitch, and the new bed skirt, the Halloween costumes and the fancy party dress I will someday make you will know that even when my day is done I kept my hands at work, loving you every moment. Sweetheart, this is the just first time you have filled my heart with love not just for you but for my mom, too. She taught me how to be a mother and we both owe her a big thank you.

Today I finished my first project for you, Emily. No coincidence, today is your grandmother’s birthday. When we look at this little poem hanging in your room I hope it reminds us both of a few things. For you I hope it reminds you to reach for the stars and dream big, little girl. It’s a big world out there and I will be here to help you. Just like the stars in the sky I will always keep one eye open, watching you grow up, sometimes from a distance that pains me now to imagine. For me this poem hanging on your wall will remind me of my mom. She taught me everything I need to know to be your mother. I just didn’t realize it until you were here in my arms.

I love you, baby. You are my big bright star.
Love, Mom