You asked to stay up late last night. At 12 midnight, I watched you beam with happiness as your best friend and I greeted you happy birthday. There are many things to be said about that moment. Most important of them is that you have people showing up for you, because you do the same for them – and more. Aside from your straightforwardness, that is, perhaps, the trait I applaud in you the most.
When you love, you love with utmost loyalty and depth. Anyone dares to hurt the people you love, they’re as good as dead to you. Not everybody can be as brave as that, even adults. Though it sometimes leads to a great deal of pain too – as you might have experienced a few times when people you loved betrayed your trust – it’s what also makes love worth risking the heart for, worth having, worth fighting for. What makes forgiveness and letting go one of the most liberating and beautiful experiences in this wild, finite life.
My wish for you, now that you’re 11, is that you never tire of loving the way that you do. And when the time comes, to let go. Trust that when you do, those who truly love you – me, especially – will stay up late up for you. We will show up for you, as you always do for us.
Happy birthday, my love.
To awakening, experiencing, and learning to let go on your eleventh year and beyond,
PS – I haven’t written a poem for your birthday, so I wrote one last night when you were frustrated with your AP homework. I know you’re not going to read it or understand it yet, but when you are old enough, hopefully it can let you see you how love can show up in something as small as a poem, too.
Doing life together
Another crumpled sheet on the floor
your fist a heart curling with rage
hair a bird’s nest
tears smudging an impossible question
Six years ago (six months ago, too)
your tiny hands cupped my wet cheeks
after I skinned my knees running
too fast for life’s perils:
love, unpaid dues, this lonesome parenthood
Your lips hushing me:
I am here for you, Mama
and so will I
whenever you need me
So today, I sit next to you
thumb your anger away,
put your book on my lap and ask,
What can we do
to make this better?