Dear TBD and TBD,
You don’t yet have official “public” names and technically you aren’t born yet but hopefully if your mom reads you this letter someday… she’ll fill in the TBD and TBD. These are my crazy, errant thoughts to you at 4:15 in the morning. I am sitting at your father’s desk in Cambridge, Massachusetts after a day at the hospital with your mom. I’m here only because you might enter this world at any moment… and only eight weeks early. I know, almost without a doubt, that if you do arrive early… well, it will be the last time you are early for anything . . . because your mother has never been on time in her life.
You have been anxiously awaited and your Mimi has gone completely off the deep end preparing a place for you. I mean, seriously, you probably won’t remember this but she had custom drawer knobs made for your dresser to match the fabric in the nursery.
I’ve been pretty excited about your arrival, too. So I’ve stolen space on your dad’s big mahogany desk in a tiny apartment next to Harvard to write down just a few of my hopes and wishes for you.
May you have your father’s smarts and heart and your mother’s ability to always, always get the joke. May you know great achievements and great failures, for it is in failure that we learn how to overcome. May your failures bring you home to a safe harbor in the arms of your mother and father.
May you have your Mimi’s gift for grammar and my sense of humor. Please do as many things possible to make your mother absolutely insane – especially if they remind her of me. Be loud. Be Brash. Be her shadow. Make her pour her own kool-aid.
May you always live close enough for me to see and hold you often, but far enough away that I will remain the cool Aunt you want to go visit.
I hope that someday you have cousins like Elizabeth and I did to share your youth. Mostly so that you will all have the same stories to tell year after year at the Christmas dinner table.
May your mother never leave you at the grocery store they way that mine did, but if she does … use your cell phone to call me and I’ll come get you. I pray that you’ll never be arrested but if you are… use the jail phone to call me for bail money and then ask your father for legal advice.
Never get a tattoo. Never. It will break your Mimi’s heart and that shit is not erasable. However, I expect you to draw on walls and cut your own hair. May you be beautiful but still awkward enough to instill in each of you a compassionate heart for those that are not as beautiful. May you be blessed with your mother’s dance skills… because breaking it down on the dance floor is always a party favorite.
Don’t let the size of your Woodard head slow you down… its only that big because it’s filled with a Porterfield size brain. May you not be intimidated by your father’s Harvard Law Degree, but rather use it to inspire you to the same greatness that he achieves.
I pray to God, that you don’t get the same temper that your mother and I have. I pray that the Lord bestows on you the patience and gentleness of your father. But with that said, may God give you just enough temper to never be taken advantage of or used.
May your sweet mother someday forget how challenging you’ve been inutero and only remember the first moments of joy when she learned you were formed… because most of the moments after that have been quite hard on her little body.
I hope you have your Mimi’s grace in a crisis but your grandfather’s ability to make fun of her.
My heart breaks a little bit that you’ll never know him – your grandfather. He would have liked to have known you. To watch you grow. He would have been your biggest fans. He would have taught you both how to throw a curve-ball and a perfect spiral. He would proudly sit through hours of dance recitals. Your grandfather would have let you sit in his lap to turn the steering wheel while he worked the pedals of the truck. He would have pulled out his old four-ten and taught you how to shoot with the same gun your mother learned on. He would make you laugh. He would have given you the world. He wouldn’t care about the hassle you’ve caused your mother… he’d only tease her about it. I hope you get his ability to put people at ease. I hope you both have his business sense and work ethic but not to the same extremes. Why? Because I want you to experience everything that life has to offer and that can’t be found in a cubicle or corporate office complex. That can only be found in the intimacies and intricacies of interactions with the world.
May your parents be successful enough to let you travel the world. May they be realistic enough to make you do that from the backseat of Travel Quest van. May they have enough to send you off to camp each summer so you can learn ridiculous skills like badminton and archery. And when you go off to camp, may you be the nerd just like I was with a bag of allergy pills, creams, and ointments. May your parents always pick you up from camp instead of fedexing a plane ticket home like Mimi did to me.
I hope you get your mom’s knack for foreign languages so you can travel the world with ease instead of like me and Cousin Ryan – always appearing as the ugly American in beautiful spots throughout Europe.
May you be blessed with your Mimi’s ability to lead and teach and coach. I hope you see yourselves through her eyes because in them you are perfect beings. I hope you get her ability to laugh at yourself. I’ve spent years teasing her just to prepare for when her grand-children make fun of her. I really pray you don’t get her hearing and that you will always be patient with her when she can’t hear what you say but never exploit the fact that she can’t hear a thing you say or do. I hope you get her tender heart. May you always love Christmas with the same ardor that she does. I pray you live close to her in your youth, mostly so she can watch every inch that you both grow but also so that you have someone besides your Dad to help proof your papers. And every Halloween I want you to let her don her witches hat and read Poe’s “The Raven” to you. From all of us, you will discover a love of the written word. I know this for sure because your Mimi has been reading to you since you were formed.
May your sweet Mimi, whom I call Big Sara, read you “Little Women” and “The Secret Garden” just as she did to your mother and me. And may it ensure that you always think the book is better than the movie. May you always appreciate how her tiny hands toil for those she loves and how they will for each you more than anyone before you.
May you be bold and brave and speak your mind. But God help us, let’s hope you aren’t like me and take that to an extreme… find a place between your mom and me … where you listen intently but not control the conversation.
And someday, years from now, when you dream of children – may you do exactly what your parents did for you . . . may you be willing to spend every penny you have to create life outside your own. May you challenge doctors and science and geography to give my sweet sister grand-babies, though, my prayer is that you’ll never know the same struggles they did …
May you always know how very much your parent’s wanted you both. May you know the extremes that they went through just to meet you. And someday, when you are both 13, awkward, sullen and angry . . . remember how much they sacrificed just to give you the chance to be awkward, sullen and angry.
You are both tiny miracles . . . may you always live your life knowing that miracles do happen – for you’ve only to look in the mirror to know its true.
24 October 2012