I still see you in your crib, a tangle of white-blond fluff for hair, taking breaths in and out. I remember all those times you broke your arm(s), which clearly showed me you were and are a girl of adventure. I see you in a snowsuit in Texas on a rare day of snow.
Then life takes its turn and you are in France, and the world looks bright on the Riviera, but I know that you are struggling in those dark French classrooms. I wish I could shake me then, help me wake up to the fact that I needed to better protect you, uncover the pain, and rewind the situation. History never lets us take time machines. But I want to tell you I’m sorry. Again. There was more I should have done to hear you, to understand your fears, to walk alongside you.
I remember your first day back in the classroom at our neighborhood school in Texas, how small you seemed, how big my grief was. But mostly I see your bravery. It’s the one trait that shatters and minimizes all the others. Your grit to make it through. Your grace under stress.
In the subsequent years, you have taught me to love. You have empowered me to pray. You have stretched my heart so it bleeds for more and more people. You’ve opened up new doors of empathy for me, something I never thought possible, knowing my clear bent that way.
As I see you in junior high and high school, the overwhelmed feeling I get is pride. You were and are tenacious. You were and are kind. You were and are longing for deep health.
You have made me a better mom. You have made me a better person.
And now you’re past adulthood, making your own decisions, weighing your own options, venturing forward into new dreams and vistas. You’re off to your second year of college, soon to be away from home, and I am grateful. Grateful at the uncanny way God has carried you through trauma and tears. Grateful because you are the hardest worker I know. Grateful that you still want to be my girl.
I love you.
Happy Birthday, Julia.