Dear Lily June,
The blogger SmirkPretty once made a comment to me which included this quotation from Thich Nhat Hanh:
“If we have happy parents, we have received the richest inheritance of all.”
The quotation is so heavy to me, it may as well be carved like a stone monument into the side of a mountain. It is a constant reminder that as your parents, the state of our relationship always trickles down to you. In fact, we’ve been beaten over the head with that message lately.
On last night’s Louie that your dad and I watched together after we put you to sleep, a family counselor told the titular comedian and his ex-wife essentially the same message, so that, when we heard it, we immediately turned our heads like two synchronized swimmers towards each other:
“Divorced or married, the fact is, if there’s harmony between parents, the kids are happy, and if there isn’t, they are not.”
You know that I’m not going to lie: Things had been tense between your parents, Lily. In welcoming you into our lives (and consequently, embracing more joy than we’ve ever known and don’t you forget it, young lady) there were adjustments to be made that came, not from your birth, but from our own birthrights. I know you know what I’m talking about if you’ve read my other letters, but suffice it to say, we didn’t always have a rich inheritance…
But Lily, even at our most divided, we have always loved each other and you. And we are finally starting to sync back up, get on the same page, and [insert all the other cliches here for working together.] The Bucket List and the Saturday morning coffee ritual that we started has helped (and bless you, Lily, you have granted us the rich gift of your patient curiosity, watching intently but quietly as your parents have put their sanity back together over conversations and a cherry bomb latte or chai or two). It has also helped taking a couple of days away from the soul-crushing torture slash exciting adventure (depending on who you’re talking to and when) that is the house-hunting process.
In the meantime, you have brought us physically back together: Because of your sleep regression, we’ve had to alter your sleep routine the past couple of nights, putting you to bed just a single hour earlier like a number of websites said to. And for 48 hours, it has worked: You’ve slept on two separate occasions for the entire night through. [And the clouds parted, and there was much rejoicing in our one bedroom.] But that means, when your dad gets home at eight, we’re putting you down immediately. And while you
hatch evil plans to wake us now sleep peacefully, we sit for one hour, one blissful hour, and remember what it was to be the best friends we’ve always been. So thank you, Lily.
Thank you for throwing us the bone of a few zzz’s. We know it may be temporary, but I knew things were better for us when we came up with the idea to pull back your bedtime, and we both looked at each other and said in perfect unison (like no one outside of a Disney movie or musical does ever), “I hope this works.”
It was just like the time you were taken up to audiology in the hospital and when we woke realizing you were gone, we knew simultaneously we had to go get our daughter that minute. Which was like the time after we’d taken you home early on and we’d had so much trouble getting you, as a newborn, to sleep in the first place. And then, when we finally were able to lay down as a whole family, you let out the loudest, cutest sigh in the world EVER and your dad and I turned to each other and started whisper-howling, trying so hard not to let our cracking up wake you back up.
Which was like the time, little Lily, when you once lay in your crib in the living room napping and we both looked in at you at the same time. And you lifted your little arms skyward as if you were an enthusiastic evangelistic preacher asking the congregation for an Amen, Hallelujah. And we both about died not just from laughter, but from that being one of those moments where we could’ve, on the spot, died and we’d’ve died happier than we ever imagined ourselves being.
Some people, Lily, believe in all their hearts in Easter, that a savior named Jesus died to save humanity from the baser aspects of ourselves and on this upcoming Sunday, they will celebrate his having arisen. Others, if they do not hold this faith, can still smell the crisp breath of the daffodils in the air this time of year and feel as if they, too, are renewed. I hope, my dear, in whatever you feel, believe, and know to be true, that you know the restorative power love can hold in a life, whether that love be God’s, one of many gods’, or your fellow (wo)man’s.
I say this often enough to defeat the purpose behind the rhetoric entirely, but forgive me because here it is again. If you learn nothing else from me, my darling Lily, learn that love is all there is worth living for. Any regrets I have or things I would do differently stem from the times in my life I have not held this as my guiding truth. And as the lyrics go to what is quickly becoming my favorite bedtime song to sing to you,
“The greatest thing / you’ll ever learn / is just to love / and be loved in return.”
- By Internet Archive Book Images – https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/14746384791/Source book page: https://archive.org/stream/wildfowlofunited00elli/wildfowlofunited00elli#page/n38/mode/1up, No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43617748