Dear Lily June,
I stalked off into Southern autumn once to follow the poet Joel Brouwer. He’d written Centuries, a collection of poems all 100 words long. Exactly. I coveted concision. Sitting in his office, spying a sprig of chest hair slink through his buttonhole like time-lapse photography taken of kudzu unraveling, I heard him say I needed to make my entire manuscript far more chatty or far, far less. I kept it the same length but never published it, filling it instead with poems about your father, a poet whose quiet I would follow back into the firefly blizzards of Northern summer.
In other words, the letters below, Lily, are short, written to you by strangers for your upcoming first birthday on May 13. They are the 14th and 15th letters I’ve received, one from Linda and one from Penny, respectively. However, their letters’ lengths shouldn’t lessen their impact or make you question the incredibly generous intentions of their authors, about which I have more to say below.
I’ve combined the letters from Linda of lindalanger6 and Penny of pennyforyourthotsblog, as well as my introductions of them, not as a way of shortchanging either letter-writer, but to show that I respect them enough to not let my words stand in their way. Though the original source has been heavily contested, it was likely 17th century Frenchman Blaise Pascal who first said something along the lines of
“Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte”
or, as roughly translated into in English,
“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”
What do I mean by that, Lily? Honestly, I mean that I’m the Queen of producing TLDR-style prose because it would take me FOREVER to prune back my word choices, tightening and tinkering my diction until it was as crisp as a ten-dollar bill and as excitingly odd as a two-dollar one. What I admire about Linda’s and Penny’s blogs especially is that they are both often able to surpass the “good things come in small packages” cliche, writing some of the most condensed but still punch-packing prose I’ve had the privilege to read.
Linda has moved me with the small details, the romance of roses saved from rainstorms and the heartbreak of rocking chairs that vacillate tenderly between joy and grief. Penny has forced me to consider the larger abstracts of life–what I think I understand when I hear the words Chaos, Sacrifice or Hope. But both accomplish in five paragraphs or less what it would take me five decades or more to pare down: prose riddled with what is essential in life.
So instead of prattling on and on about these bloggers until I pass by your birthday altogether, a mother more full of hot air than one of your balloons, I instead intend to let their words speak for themselves and shut myself up for once. After all, Lily, you’ve only mastered two main expressions (short of Mama & Dada), and they’ve pretty much got you set for life: “Uh-oh! Duck!” May your wisdom rub off as much on your letter-writers below as theirs does on you.
Happy birthday, sweetheart,
You have an awesome mommy, little one. She has overcome many hardships to have you, to keep you safe, and to love you with all her heart. Her letters to you are such a gift! Seldom do mothers tell their daughters so much about themselves. Added to all this is the fact that you are about the cutest little June bug I have ever seen!
Your i-Aunt Linda
Dear Lily June,
I am writing to you simply to remind you that happiness is found within yourself and not from any outside source – not material things, not wealth, not success, and not other people who may be pillars in your life like your wonderful family members and friends.
Happiness is something already inside you from day one and, as you approach the end of year one, I just wanted to give you this extra heads up, if you will, because it seems like this new generation is ingrained in keeping up with the fast-paced and ever-changing technological advances as everyone has to have the latest iPhone or Android phone, etc. Sometimes we as adults get can get caught up in having the latest and greatest products to enjoy, but I want you to grow to remind yourself always that these things do not bring us joy, but that joy is brought out of us with the beliefs and values we hold dear to our hearts, with the confidence and courage your parents will instill in you every day, with the understanding that all you must do is be yourself and truly love who that is – every bit of it.
To be happy, truly happy, I would say you need to embrace exactly who you are and embrace everything that comes your way on this journey called life. Sure, there will be good days and better days, but don’t let this deter you from being at your best.
Think of these storms as a test of your will, your desire to be happy, and you will not fail – you cannot fail if you follow my advice. For people will come in and out of your life, material things will break and become outdated, but the happiness that comes from within you will withstand all other forces. This is not to say that you will never experience heartbreak, but to say that you will recover fully, knowing exactly how to tap into that happiness once again in time.
Nothing and no one can take that happiness away from you. This is the greatest gift of all that I could think of to pass on to you, and I hope you will take it to heart one day. I wish you the best of birthdays!
Penny of pennyforyourthoughtsblog
- By asenat29 – https://www.flickr.com/photos/72153088@N08/6510934443, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org