Dear Lily June,
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: 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 fourth of these I received, with my introduction to the fellow blogger who sent it.
I have always been a sucker for a good coincidence. In fact, when I was in middle school, my friend Kirsten and I used to keep a notebook labelled “Coincidii” for just such occasions as our experiencing deja vu or moments of extreme kismet when the stars seemed to align–the kind you have when you’re reading the cliched lines, “It was a dark and stormy night…” just as you look up from your book to see a knife of lightning slash its jagged beams across the sky.
I had just such a moment reading Fancy’s (of the FancyPaper blog’s) letter to you, Lily. Because no sooner had I read her letter–about how you would be just like a story for her daughters, while her daughters might feel more like characters to you (what with your never having met Gigi and Betsy but having only read about them, as I have, too!)–than I read a story called “Simulcra,” in which the author contemplates what life might be like in the infinite number of universes that contain other possibilities for our lives.
While that story is incredibly sad (the author must reimagine her former lover to be living again in other universes, after a brutal murder), I smile when I think of the possibilities of universes with you and the Paper Family. In one universe, Lily, you are a literate baby capable of having a blog, which helps you to find two little girls named G. & B. Paper, and in that world, you three complain on the blogosphere about your mothers and how we keep you awake at night with worry or love, about how difficult we are to whip into shape as parents.
In another universe, “Fancy” and I are actually able to sit down for a cup of coffee (or a spot of tea), and we gaze across the table at our daughters and realize that everything we do, from the jobs we hold to the blogs we post, are really, in some way, for them. We talk about how our lives changed trajectories when our babies split them wide open like the light of a storm pouring through a cloud, and then the stars align over our table, and the stars are really Gigi and Betsy and you, Lily June, twinkling down into our proud eyes.
In one universe, there are just strangers who met on digital paper, pouring our hearts out about life and love and literature and everything in between. And in this universe, one of those two strangers sent another some words from across the Atlantic for a baby she’d never met who will, in about a month, turn one. And that this universe is real, and the baby is you, is the real life magic, Lily. It always was, and it always will be, no matter the age you are when you finally read Fancy’s words below, “penned” just for you.
Dear Lily June,
I wish you a happy birthday! I know it will be beautiful as I read your Mother’s writing all the time and your parents live for you and love you with all their hearts. Even more than Lady loves the Tramp, Peter loves Wendy and maybe even Elsa loves Anna!
I have two little girls like you. One will be two in May and the other will be one in October. They are growing up on the other side of the Atlantic from you but they will be experiencing our crazy, fun and unpredictable world at the same time as you. I will tell them about a little girl called Lily June and that is our present to you. We will include you in our stories and thoughts. Imagine you will be our fairy story character that is really real!
We will imagine you and your Mammy and Daddy,who you will call Mom and Dad, and how you are learning what we learn. We will think of you when Betsy says her first words, when Gigi learns to actually ride a bike, on our first holiday abroad – when her Mammy gets brave enough to consider a flight with young children!
As you grow in your home and my girls in ours, I will be encouraging my girls to try new foods. Be open minded to cultures and opinions. Be strong. Travel. I will tell them how I managed to go to South America when I had no job. How many dreams are possible. Life finds a way. I say that to you, too. For your birthday.
The hardest lesson for me was accepting myself. It is freedom to let this happen. You are amazing as you. Always remember that. Tough times don’t last. Magic of some kind happens in the world every day.
Look out for the magic. Your parents want you to see it, too. Love your birthday, and remember it will be a wonderful life for you in this world!
Happy birthday, sweet little lady!
“Fancy” from FancyPaper