Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Three-Year-Old,

It amazes me that we have arrived to this moment. On your first birthday, I felt very sick. We found out soon afterwards that I had a cancer growing inside my body. I had surgery a few weeks after your birthday and my doctors said that with aggressive treatment, I could expect another 18-24 months. I immediately thought of you, my tiny girl, barely one, not walking or talking.

I couldn't face the thought that I wouldn't live to your third birthday. I kept thinking that people don't have permanent memories from before age three. All I could think was that you would never remember me. Of course, I worried for your brothers as well, but at least they would know our life together, and not feel they had grown up completely motherless.

I was afraid for myself too, scared I would feel sick and miserable for every day for the rest of my life. Scared of the unknowns of chemotherapy and dying. People think I was strong then, but I wasn't. I just didn't want life to be so unfair to you. A little girl needs a mother. I tried unsuccessfully to convince your father he should start thinking about remarrying as soon as I died, but as you might guess, that was a futile effort.

So I set on a course of making it to this day, your third birthday, and by some miracle we have arrived here together. But the real miracle has been the in-between. The one-million, fifty one thousand and two hundred minutes of joy you and our family have given me in the last two years. I was so wrong in thinking that I should pursue aggressive treatment because YOU needed to know ME. The truth is, I needed a chance to know you. And here is what I know: three years ago, a light came into this world. The world has made three trips around the sun since that day and that light burns brighter and warms the lives of us all.

You wake up and pad into my room dragging your blanket behind. I sewed that blanket before you were born, and hope it doesn't wear out with all that dragging around. Sometimes I can coax you into cuddling for a bit, but you're more likely to snuggle in Trevor's bed than mine. You two share a special bond. He adores you and you would follow him to the ends of the earth.

You know what you are about. "Read to me mommy," you say as you take my hand. We've all learned that you won't take "no" for an answer. "Play Memory with me," is the most frequent request these days. I hate to play Memory, I'm so bad at it. And you're so frighteningly good at it. But I do truly enjoy watching the delight you find in playing.

Since you were born, I think about 90% of our clothing expenditures have been for you. It is my addiction and you always seem delighted to try on the latest outfit or pair of shoes. Lately it's all about the posing. Hands on the hips, a little thrust to the side, your sassy best. Your spirit has a contagious delight.

You love your little friends, Libby, Spenser, Brianna, Liora. It will be another 9 months till you start preschool but I know you're so ready. Ballet, gymnastics, swimming...you're so excited to try anything new. And you're such the picture perfect angel in your leotard (which you insist in wearing to bed sometimes) tights, ballet shoes and tutu.

Oh, and as much as I don't want you to think that your self-worth is determined by how you look, your head of fairy-tale blonds curls brings me a ridiculously unnatural amount of joy. I look back at the pictures of my practically bald one year old and think, it was so worth the wait for this hair. You're unbelievably patient through all the combing and placement of bows, but there is a certain perfection to your unembellished head of hair, with that perfect ringlet curl falling over your right eye.

Now about that temper, my darling girl. I must say, you are a bit volatile and none of us are quick to cross you. Passionate, spirited, determined...and just a little bit of a hothead. Nobody will ever accuse you of being bland and submissive, my love.

So we have arrived together at this day that was never promised, but always hoped for. I'm thankful for the opportunity to watch you become this amazing little person, so full of life. Thank you my Petunia.