This time twelve years ago, I was wolfing down a cheeseburger from McDonald’s and recovering from a hard labor and an hour and a half of pushing. I was tired and hungry and didn’t have a clue about what was to come next. I cried a lot those first few days– hurting, tired, and sad, I loved you immediately, but I also knew that I had signed on for the greatest responsibility of my life, and it scared me to death.
I was afraid my life would never be the same.
My days of worrying about myself were gone. I had only skimmed the surface of my deep, deep reservoir of worry. I only thought I had been a worry-wart before. After you came, my worry multiplied and grew bigger every day. Then, your brother came, and it grew even more. At times, I have felt smothered by it. I have worried about the world I brought you into, about my own inadequacies, about traffic and cancer and school shootings. I’ve worried about mean girls and silly social pressures and EOG scores. I’ve worried about abusive relationships, self-esteem, and stupid people you may encounter who try to crush your gorgeousness by making you feel small so that they can put you in their tiny, unimaginative, milk-toast boxes. I’ve worried about snakes in the woods, about your spiritual growth, and about how many veggies you eat in a day. In other words, I worried about things I didn’t even know needed to be worried about before you came along.
But I gave up my semi-carefree existence for something much greater.
I gave it up for joy and happiness and, most of all, love.
I did not truly know the depths of my own heart or my capacity for loving until you came into my life. How can I ever repay you for that? Do you know what a gift you have given me? How dramatically and profoundly you changed me?
I only thought I knew of beauty and understood God’s love before you. Now, I know– in the deepest parts of me– what these things mean. Beauty, love, joy, freedom, clarity, happiness– these were just abstract ideas before. Now they are part and parcel of who I am.
Before you came, I did not fully understand myself, and I did not fully appreciate myself. You have taught me more about who I am and who I want to be than any other person in my life. When I look at you, I see all the good things I am and all the better things I want to be. And I know that I would never want you to change even the tiniest fraction of your real, true self to satisfy someone else. I see your total perfection, which, in turn, liberates me. It frees me to recognize my own imperfect perfection, and to embrace it.
What a thrilling notion– to know that we are all unique, weird, joyful, wonderfully and divinely made creatures cut from the stars of heaven and put here to shine in our brilliant, quirky ways. Thank you, Harper Lee, for being a bright light– for shining in all your joy and curiosity and creative wonder– for never holding back– and in doing so, freeing those of us who are blessed to share this life with you to do the same.
You are a star.