Dear Lily June,
Don’t get deja vu with this opening, but I’ve put out a call to anyone (seriously! anyone!) who stumbles upon this blog to write you a letter for your upcoming first birthday on May 13. Below is the second of these I received, with my introduction to the fellow blogger who sent it.
Let’s talk numbers. Because of my weird OCPD listing tendencies, I know I first encountered Allie’s blog, Allie Potts Writes, on September 7, 2015. Since then, I know I have read 104 of her posts (and counting). In February 5, 2016, I purchased her book An Uncertain Faith from Amazon (a paper copy, because that’s who you mother IS, Lily) but I’ve yet to have the time to read it from start to finish, which means I’ve been waiting in anticipation for 62 days to actually give it the attention (and appreciation) it deserves.
You know the one, Lily. It’s the book with the beautiful cover (that you’ve tried to chew approximately 3,279 times) of a woman in a black dress suspended over an abyss. Some days, my dear, I relate a little too closely with that cover, but what’s funny is, at least from what I can tell from her blog (and some incredibly kind emails I’m too terrified to count the days since I’ve responded to), that woman isn’t who Allie is.
I’ve probably told her an inestimable amount of times that she’s my positivist guru. If I haven’t said it in her blog’s comments, I’ve shouted it in my mind. On my darkest days, she always gives me a perspective that, if I can’t emulate, I can at least admire. I hope you make a collection of friends someday, Lily, just like this.
I know I’ve used this line from James Branch Cabell before in your letters, but it applies here again. He wrote that
“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”
I’m telling you, Lily, if I could live like Allie lives? I might believe in the world and fear only the pessimists. The generosity and large-heartedness of her letter to you should give you a glimpse into why.
Dear Lily June,
You don’t know me. That is, I am pretty sure you don’t. Who knows how our lives may still intersect between the day I write this and the day you actually have interest in reading my letter? Truth be told, you may never have any interest in reading my words. After all, who am I but someone whose eye was caught once on your mother’s writing only to then be hooked so securely that I needed to send you, a one-year-old girl I’ve never met, a birthday greeting?
But I felt compelled to. Why? Because your mother asked.
Your mother is going to ask you do to a number of things, especially now that you are both mobile and communicating beyond coos, cries, and the occasional squeal. She is going to ask you to clean up your room. To put your shoes on or finish your meal. She is going to ask you to share your toys with other children. She is going to ask you to always try your best and to give back to others. She is also going to ask that you never turn your back on the victims of injustice, or ever stop asking what you might do to make this world even a fraction of a fraction little better. I know this all because I’ve read your letters. She’s already started.
I’ve only read them though. You on the other hand will have to hear and live these as well as thousands upon thousands more just like them. Eventually, I expect you will learn how to filter them out like any background noise. It is what teenaged brains do. Your eyes will roll back in your head as if the actual sight of your brain within your skull might help you process why in the world your mother is so demanding. When that day comes, you might begin to wonder why then a person who has no familial ties, nor obligations tied to work or other debt would take the time to follow through on such an odd request from your mother, assuming you remember these letters at all.
For your first birthday, she could have given you a new toy. Something you can slobber on, pull apart, or leave at the park. You might have even loved it too, if only for a moment. Although, at your age, I am pretty sure you would have enjoyed the box the toy came in about as much. That is you would, until the next present came along. Instead she decided to give you something much more lasting (because nothing posted online ever goes completely away – remember that, especially when you are a teenager!) It may have started as a way of giving herself a day or two off from the blogosphere to spend with you, but she invited the world to write you letters. It was an invitation I couldn’t refuse.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, Miss Lily June. Your mother’s gift to you on this first birthday cost her more than time spent editing a string of emails you may never read or even a pile of toys. To give you this gift, your mother gave up certainty. She gave up control. She opened up her personal space, this virtual shrine she’s built up out of love for you, to the unknown. To strangers who may have agendas of their own. Strangers who have connected only to a snap shot of your family through the power of digital ink on e-paper. This, from the same woman who boasts of the military precision of her dishwasher loading skills and of her binder of organized blogger perfection. Lily June, I may not know your mother, but I how it feels for people like us to be at fate’s mercy.
Your mom must be terrified.
But she’s giving you this gift anyway. That’s how much she loves you.
So, Lily June, enjoy your cake today as well as those served future birthdays. May you always experience a wonderful celebration of the beginning of another year’s adventure. But when your mom acts a little frazzled in the days immediately preceding the big day (which she will – trust me) or in those days immediately following, try to remember she’s given you more than just life. She’s offered up pieces of her soul too. So please be kind (and help clean your room).
Allie of Allie Potts Writes