Happiness, hit her like a train on a track
Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back
She hid around corners and she hid under beds
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled
With every bubble she sank with a drink
And washed it away down the kitchen sink
The dog days are over
The dog days are done
The horses are coming so you better run
Run fast for your mother run fast for your father
Run for your children for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your love and your longing behind you
Can’t carry it with you if you want to survive
The dog days are over
The dog days are done
Can’t you hear the horses
‘Cause here they come
And I never wanted anything from you
Except everything you had
And what was left after that too,
Happiness hit her like a bullet…
– Florence and the Machine, “The Dog Days are Over.”
I see you, at the age of four, float around the room, belting this song. A pink feather Boa flings this way, Blond curls fly back the other way. You’ve got a standing audience, and are fully in your element. Gloves, rings, microphone, sunglasses. They all take the moment to make the birthday girl shine.
We paid one of those birthday party companies to put you in the spotlight on that particular day, but the truth is that you NEVER really need a spotlight to shine. You bring it with you everywhere that you go. We didn’t name you based off of the meaning that comes up via Google search either, but it’s hard to argue against that there is any better way to describe you than to say that you are a “bringer of light.”
Even during my pregnancy with you, I think I knew that I was in for something special, as you were constantly in motion. You came out a force to be reckoned with- screaming and crying-, but calmed right back down again as soon as they placed you on my chest. You just needed to feel back “home” again. And from there, you took off running. Well, as much as your little body would let you, anyway.
You instantly took to a camera, your whole face brightening right up every time you saw one, trying to grab at it and talk. I have so many old videos of you baby-talking whole sentences, wishing so badly that they were actual words. Since the beginning, we’ve kind of just used the tongue-in-cheek saying, “nobody puts ‘L’ in a corner”.
Every day of preschool, kindergarten, etc. was an opportunity for you to go out, learn, have fun, and play. New friends, silliness, singing, dancing, and getting the most out of life have never been issues for you. And I love to watch you strike the match and glow. Doing so many things that just don’t come nearly as naturally for me. Because it’s never been about me. It’s been about amazing you. And keeping you the most amazing version of yourself as possible.
You’ve taken your time becoming a full-blown teenager. And we are so glad. There is no need to rush into what you will have SO many years to experience. Right now, you are 12, just a few months away from 13 and I’m not ready to give away the “kid” part of you just yet. You may regularly give me make-up tips from TIK TOK, but you are also the one who puffy paints my chemo pump bag, and the one who still wants to put together spa days for Mommy and movie nights for the family.
As you’ve gotten older, we’ve begun to see more and more of the thunder clouds roll in. When they rage, they remind me of the day that you were born, and of the very big feelings you experience when you look around and discover that what you expected didn’t happen, or that you are once again away from your comfort zone. During those times, my instinct is to pull you near, and to remind you that home– that place of love- will never be too far away from you.
You are such a strong young lady. And an optimist. With such very high highs and some occasionally deep lows, that you seem to quickly bounce yourself back from. But it’s okay if sometimes you don’t. I find, once again, that my greatest pride as a parent comes back to a pride over who you are as a person. Those friends that you make easily? You usually keep. Unless. Unless they show themselves to be mean or shallow and then you dump them to the curb. You seem to intrinsically know your value as a person and don’t waste your time on ‘friends’ who don’t really.. act like friends.
I’ve also seen how you seem to have a radar for the underdog, or for anyone being teased or mistreated. They will always find a place to sit at your table, because you don’t stand for that. Because of this, I watch you walk between several different ranked “social groups” with ease. Occasionally, something will happen that hurts you a little, but you always find your compass and recover. This, my dear is just one of many ways that I overflow with pride over you.
You love dancing. You love art. Most of all? I think you love humor. When you do social media, or most anything, it’s main focus is to get somebody to laugh, something I feel that you have a natural talent for.
And now, the big rocks (which are of course also in your siblings’ notes, if you decide to pursue them): 1) When you decide who to settle down with as a life partner? Don’t ever settle for less that someone who looks at you like your Daddy looks at me, or like I look at Daddy. Until death do you part isn’t easy, and it also can come unexpectedly early and terribly. Be with your soulmate and take care of each other through those tough times. 2) If you decide to have a child (by whatever means). Lean into love. Love is the first part of your relationship with that child. Let live be the last part as well. Love has to be the foundation, if you are going to be able to get that child to trust you to coach them into being their best selves.
And now, just for you. There will be some dark days ahead. I want to fix that for you, but I can’t. Allow yourself to feel the sadness. Acknowledge it. Don’t try to push down those feelings or bury them. Let the feelings be. And if you need to talk to someone or get help, please do so. Process all of the bad stuff, so that you can keep all of the good stuff safe. Because you can never, ever, ever, ever, ever leave the light that is such a integral part of who you are disappear. Let the dog days happen, and then let them fade away. And then get up on those horses, which will take you to so many places throughout your life. Places that need to see all of the light that you have to bring.
I love you, so much, baby girl. And that kind of love isn’t going anywhere. It can only go back to your heart. Keep it there, hold it there, and share it with others wherever you go.