Dear Lily June,
Once upon a time, exactly a year ago today, after I’d been told you might not make it, I made a promise to you and to God (in whatever form you might believe, if you do at all) that I would keep you alive in my heart by writing you letters, no matter what might happen to your body along the way.
And so, the night after an emergency ultrasound–the first time I’d been able to see your incredibly tiny, beautiful, all at once fragile and powerful heartbeat–I wrote your first letter. I’m including it below, my darling dear. It’s addressed to “Dear Little Heart” because at the time, with the imagined tiny horse hoof gallop of your loveliest organ fresh in my ears, that’s how I addressed you.
I ended up writing you 249 pages–one everyday from that moment in the pregnancy on–or 109,266 words. (Take that, Twitter.) Sometimes, all I had to comment on was your size in my growing belly. Sometimes, I shared favorites or life lessons. Sometimes, especially later on, your dad joined in (the letters signed M. & D. will cue you.) And always, Peanut, Lily June, Little Heart, we shared our love with you. I’m tearing up now, because I thought that might be the only parenting I ever got to do of you. I am so grateful for the miracle of your birth–and your life–and I promise to never stop sharing my love with you.
Now that I’ve taken this project to blog form, I’ll occasionally share some of these older letters that started everything, our very connection with and to each other. Below is that very first letter. Thank you, my lovely “Lily,” my brave, strong, beautiful Little Heart, for reading.
Dear Little Heart,
It’s been a scary few weeks at the start of your journey, but last night, your Dad and I saw the most amazing thing we’ve ever seen in our lives: your heartbeat. Because I’ve had some trouble with the hormones in my body, we had to have an emergency ultrasound to be sure you were where you were supposed to be inside me. And Little Heart, you were. You are so precious and small and fragile right now, your little heartbeat was described by the doctor as a “flicker” like the tiny lights of lightning bugs.
Watching the immense fragility of your tiny flickering made me think of when I was just a child. My older sister showed me that when you take a sand-dollar, which looks like a cross between a miniature china plate and a pancake-shaped sea shell, and you break it in half, the broken bits pour out and look like doves no larger than your fingernails. I swear to you, you can see without question their breakable little wingspans. That’s what your heart looked like to me, Little Heart, with your body no larger than a peanut, and your flickering the most gorgeous, and painful, and beautiful little vision I’d ever had the glorious luck in my life to see.
Thank you for showing me how special every moment is, Little Heart. You’ve saved my life in more ways than one already, and I hope we can meet someday so I can read you these words and show you what you mean to me. I love you like it’s been sixty years in the past six weeks. Thank you for the life you’ve given me.
All my love,
- “Leonardo da vinci, Heart and its Blood Vessels” by Leonardo da Vinci – Web Gallery of Art: Image Info about artwork. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leonardo_da_vinci,_Heart_and_its_Blood_Vessels.jpg#/media/File:Leonardo_da_vinci,_Heart_and_its_Blood_Vessels.jpg