Dear Lily June,
You must be psychic, because you already know this letter will begin like this: 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 third of these I received, with my introduction to the fellow blogger who sent it.
The American comedian, W.C. Fields, is famous for having said,
“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
That quotation weighed heavily in the back of my mind as I read Bits’ (of Little Bits of Heaven‘s) letter to you, Lily, especially her paragraph about labels. But since we “met” via blogging and came to really “know” each other by email, my electronic pen pal has defied every label you could think of to sling at her but this one: Friend.
The depth of her life’s difficulties runs like the undercurrents of an ocean through her heart, and while the waves hit her, they have yet to knock her down and drown her. They couldn’t. She rises to the surface for every child she’s had, every friend she makes, even every blog she’s read. (I was thrilled to find someone who reads other WordPress pages as prolifically as I do!).
Though I’ve only just begun to interact with her, she has already become a life raft to me, and a go-to person to tell my troubles to. If I’ve even given you a glimpse into the terrified introvert I am, that should tell you something about how truly heroic Bits is. She has several times over plucked me from my own churning waters, and I don’t know that I have the words to express the true extent of my gratitude for that.
She didn’t know it at the time, but the poem she included with her letter is one of your mother’s favorites, too. So much so, in fact, that I keep a print of its last two lines hanging in my office (where I often write these letters to you). I have a second copy that, once we find our house, I intend to frame and hang in your nursery or room, Lily, so that even when we’re apart, we’re together. If that isn’t kismet, I don’t know what is.
When I was a kid, I used to watch a show called My So-Called Life. In one episode, two mothers who couldn’t be more different meet and are united, not by their values, but by their love for their daughters. The one mother tells the other that they’re part of the same made-up community, something Kurt Vonnegut referred to as a “karass.” According to urbandictionary.com, that’s “a group of people linked in a cosmically significant manner, even when superficial linkages are not evident.”
Bits and I have never met, Lily, nor have I physically met any number of the amazing human beings I have interacted with only virtually and through the blogosphere here. But I couldn’t be more honored to say to Bits and these fellow writers (and anyone else who takes up the gauntlet to write you a birthday letter), welcome to my and my daughter’s karass. Enjoy, little Lily, as I have, every bit of Bits’ letter.
Dear Lily June,
In this, your first year of life, your mother and father have been teaching themselves how to live…with your heart beat as the inspiration for every tune they hum, every rock they kick.
Here is the root of the root, bud of the bud, of a tree called life; in which your parents’ roots grow deep, and their love for you reaches toward the stars. There is so much they long for you to know, to see in this big beautiful world – things they face fearfully to teach you what it means to be a kind/good human being.
I don’t know when your mother will let you read this letter I have penned for you, but I hope the little bit of wisdom I share will add value to your own precious life.
*Ask your mother to read the book Love You Forever by Robert Muncsh to you. Because as long as you’re living, your mother she will be.
*Never call your mother by her first name. She sacrifices every day so that you can have the best–the best of her, and the best of this world.
*Remember to be kind to your father. His heart is as big as he is, and he too gives much so that you can have all that you need.
*Take time to watch the wind blow through the trees. It is often in these moments we learn about ourselves what the world cannot teach us…the gift of silence, the joy of all that God has given us, the peace that comes with finding ourselves.
*Your beauty is never only skin deep. Your kindness, just like your anger, will show. Choose to be kind, and no matter what you’re wearing, who looks and who doesn’t, you will always be beautiful.
*Our failures and shortcomings do not define us, LJ. They are simply a very small piece of the puzzle that is our life. One day those pieces will no longer fit, they will be cast aside, and we will have gained wisdom as a result.
*Do not be too hard yourself. You will find your place in this world and someone who fits in with you just right.
*Never mold yourself to someone else’s standards. You are perfect just as you are.
*Take time to play. No matter how old you are there is always time to make great memories.
*Have your camera with you wherever you, my dear. Seasons change as do friends, and those who arrive in our lives don’t always stay forever. That’s okay. A photograph allows us to stay in that moment and to keep it whole.
*It’s okay to be afraid, Lily June. Fear gives us the opportunity to be courageous.
Your mother and I ‘met’ through her blog. I have learned so much from her, LJ. She has, like me, learned to live with her anxious mind, her busting-with-love-for-you heart that is also easily broken. Your mother is among the best in my world, and I hope that one day you will grow and become all that she is and have all that she would want you to have.
Much like your mother, I have been labeled, Lily June. A label, my love, is a classifying phrase or name applied to a person or thing. These days if someone doesn’t have a label, they don’t know who they are. But I say bullshit to these labels because your mother and I are more that our anxiety, our PTSD, our OCD. These labels will never define our hearts. They are not what I want you to see.
Look beyond the labels, Lily June, and you will find people who are heads and tails above the rest. Often these labeled people have suffered and are accepting because of it, tolerant to the diversity that is humanity. They, like your mother, are more often than not loyal and genuine and would give so much (that they rarely have) to help you.
Remember where you come from, who you are. When you love that person you’ll be ready to love someone else. I will leave you with my favorite poem, Lily June. It is by E.E. Cummings, and it is what you should seek in true love, true friendship.
All The Best for You Now & Always,
Happy First Birthday
“Bits” from Little Bits of Heaven