For my firstborn, Kate…
I have this very distinct memory of being in the hospital, nine months pregnant with you and about to give birth. And I was, at that moment, both so very excited to hold you in my arms that I could barely breathe, and unsure that I was ready to be your mother (I believe I actually said “I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this…”).
Ah, but a babe cannot be kept inside, close and warm and protected forever, now can she? And so you were born on a beautiful day in November, nearly nineteen years ago. Today I find myself in a familiar place, these old familiar feelings bubbling to the surface as I prepare to launch you from your place here with me into a new, albeit somewhat familiar, world. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this…my heart alternately springs up and plummets as I’ve watched your childhood draw to a close. I have been preparing for this moment for years now…ever since I read this awful little piece about how many summers remain that literally left me in a panic. Here I am with zero summers remaining, and I wonder why motherhood has to be filled with so many moments that knock the air from my lungs, so many new beginnings that really only feel like endings to the prettiest story I’ve ever read.
Have you ever watched a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis? A couple of days before she emerges, the chrysalis begins to change. The butterfly’s pattern and color are visible…you begin to see how beautiful she is. The butterfly may struggle but eventually, she will break free. She will warm herself in the sunshine, pump blood into her wings, and then she will fly. She will catch the wind and float away and be a thing of beauty, a gift, for everyone that is lucky enough to glimpse her. And that is her beginning.
I meant it when I said I was proud of the beautiful human being you have become. I have little to do with that, and you have everything. You have been my gift all of these years. Now I will watch as you go, catch the wind and fly, Kathryn Sunshine. For this is your beginning…
I love you to a depth that words cannot express,
PS At this very moment you are in the room next to me, packing and organizing all of the things for your new life. I hear you say things like “Mom, I cannot get over how cute the pom pom basket is” and “I got tissues!” and a wave of happiness laps at my heart. I could not be more thrilled for you.
Yet you have the unfortunate luck of being the first child. I had that same luck. My mother cried, as she left me in the same little town in which I will leave you, in almost the same spot, exactly thirty years ago. I didn’t get it then…to me it didn’t feel like the end.
I get it now.
I will try really hard not to cry.