Truth is, I have never required a reason for loving you. Not since the first time I looked into your pretty pink face, breathed the sweet scent of you, and pulled your soft, warm body into me. In that moment, our hearts made a covenant: all the time, no matter what.
If, however, I was ever asked why I delight in you, here are some of the things I might say…
I love the way you have always been able to hold an audience spellbound.
- When you were a baby, dad and I would go to dinner and set you (in your car-seat) on the table. You were our dinner show.
- At your second birthday party, you told the story of David and Goliath, beginning to end, with all the proper drama. I have never forgotten that, nor, I dare say, have our guests.
- One of my favorite Christmas photos is you in your green velvet dress, standing on the hassock at Grandma and Grandpa Nelson’s enacting some performance, all eyes on you. (Forgive the blurry photo. Remember, this was pre-iPhone. Back then, every shot was a crap shoot. You never knew what you had till the film was developed. Some were better than others. This is one of the others.)
- You are a gifted singer. You have a lovely voice and are remarkably good at finding harmonies. It was fun watching you use these gifts in children’s choir, and in our many family sing-alongs, but my favorite of your performances are the unintentional ones; when you are busy at something and do not realize that you are singing. I could listen to that all day. 🙂
You are the most generous person I know.
- We got our first glimpse of it just after you turned two. Dad and I were decorating the Christmas tree and you were worried that your brand new little brother would feel left out. So you decorated him. 🙂
- One morning, you woke before us, and by the time we got to Jake, you had filled his crib with pretty much all of your toys.
- Then there was the Christmas when you, as a teenager, asked for only money from everyone so you could give it to Bloodwater Mission to provide clean water to precious ones in Africa.
- The gifts you give others always say something about them. They convey to the individual the fact that you know her. You have studied her and chosen something that is uniquely suited. Regrettably, I do not share this gift, but I admire it ferociously.
- And then, you had a baby. And every time you went to buy something for yourself, you came back with something for her and totally forgot whatever it was that you needed because, all of a sudden, you didn’t need it any more.
You make a place for everyone. This is one of the things I most wish I could learn from you.
- When you were just a toddler, you had next-door best friends. You were never happier than when Jillian and Julia or the other Kelsey came over to play.
- As a teenager, friends were essential to your happiness, and were the sources of your greatest delight, and sometimes, your greatest heartache.
- You have always had a remarkable ability to find the ones who feel left out and make them feel seen and known. Whether it was the awkward kid at church or that person at work that everybody dreads working with, but somehow engenders sympathy from you, you make room in your life for all the “misfits”.
- I suspect that one of the reasons you were most keen to have your own home was so that you could invite friends over. You are at your most natural when you are welcoming and feeding friends and making them feel loved and enjoyed.
- In this year following the death of your Papa, I have watched you make a determined effort to love on Nana the way she always loved on you as a child. Most 20 somethings are too busy living their own lives to stop and imagine how lonely it must be to navigate life without the one person who has always been at the center of everything. But not you. Thank you for that.
You have an inimitable sense of style.
- From fairy tale dresses to flip flops, from blonde hair to black, purple, pink, etc…, piercings, tattoos–your body has been a canvas onto which you have projected that which is inside. Sometimes it has been painful, most of the time exquisitely lovely, but always, always honest.
You love extravagantly.
- Those who have had the great good fortune to float into your orbit, be they family members or friends, have hit the jackpot. Your love is unconditional. I, personally, am very thankful for that. It is the type of love that pursues, forgives, and makes bold.
You are brave.
- When you were 5, you wanted your ears pierced. I took you to one of those stores at the mall. When they shot your tiny little ear with that awful gun, tears slid down your face, but you didn’t make a sound. Frankly, I was panicking a little, wondering what I would do if you said no to the second side. But, you took a deep breath and told the lady you were ready. Just like that.
- You bought a home of your own, in which to raise your little one, when you were 21 years old! Twenty one! This astonishes me still.
You are funny.
- I love your laugh, but mostly I love that it is always easy for you to find something to laugh about.
You are a wonderful mother.
- You take obvious delight in your daughter. Kenzie will never need to wonder whether she is loved.
- You have made a great many sacrifices to insure that Kenz has a good life; from rising early and working multiple jobs to provide for her, to teaching her to enjoy clean and healthy food, to showing her how to esteem others and treat them with kindness–by your own example.
- You are the fun mom; going all out to decorate and dress up for Halloween, helping your baby girl collect wildflowers and small critters, playing in the rain. And the sand. And the snow.
You make the world more beautiful.
- Your photographs open our eyes to a world that we might otherwise pass by.
- You coax beauty from the earth.
- You make food an art form with creations delicious, nutritious, and gorgeous.
Darling daughter, when I held you for that first time, twenty-five years ago today, I had no idea how spectacular my life was about to become. Thank you. Thank you for being. Thank you for being you. Exactly you.
I love you.