Dear Sweet Baby Harp,
You will, in your lifetime, witness or hear about a lot of senseless things. Some of those will be tragedies. Today, I read about a little boy who is almost exactly your age. The difference, other than his bright red hair, is that you are still on this Earth breathing and he is not. We didn’t know Ryan personally, but I’ve been reading his mom’s blog for a while. In fact, some of the baking projects we’ve done in the past have been inspired by the recipes his mom has posted. Now he’s gone. And while I am grieving for this family, I can’t stop the loop of “it could have been you”. I think about all the times when you’ve stopped short, just before you’ve gone over the curb into the street. I can’t help by relive the times you’ve passed driveways and parking lot entrances without even looking, how every time could have had a different outcome, each one seeming like a moment spent teasing the fates.
Life is fragile. It is found in the incessant flutter of the heart, each blood cell flying through our veins, reaching out to kiss the tips of fingers and toes before speeding back in search of oxygen. Having you both forced and allowed me to have my heart exist independently of me. When you go down the slide, it goes with you. When you teeter over the edge of the bunk bed, peering to the bunk below, it teeters with you.
Recently, you’ve been asking for a sister or a brother or both. I think about it, a lot. I think about age gaps and Christmases and money and space and time and sometimes I think about the life your dad and I will leave you when we are gone. Logistically, there are a lot of reasons why a sibling just isn’t in the stars right now but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about the fact that having two children doubles my potential for earth-shattering loss. Most of the time I can’t imagine having to handle my heart being in more places than one. Sometimes, when I am away from you I have full blown anxiety attacks worrying about what could happen to you in my absence. I’m not sure my body is fit to handle that kind of panic to the second power.
I’m not trying to scare you. Yes, life is delicate but it is also willful and brave and beautiful. There are so many things in this world for you to experience and a mother can only hope her daughter has a chance to see and feel and smell and hear and taste as many of them as possible in the span of the lifetime. I’m elated to see that you have an explorer’s heart. Your curiosity in endless, your questions unyielding, your desire to connect overwhelming. You talk to strangers, you jump off walls double your height, you should have been named Heart Attack instead of Harper.
In reality, I’m jealous of you. You live unabashedly, and without anxiety. I hope as your grow older and become more aware of the complexity of the world you exist in, you remain unafraid but you learn caution. The truth is I cannot always be with you and even if I could there are too many variables for me to control. I love you, so much. There are days when I wish I could wrap you in bubble wrap and protect you from anything that might cause you any harm, emotional or physical. Today is one of these days. But I can’t and I shouldn’t because in doing so, I would be keeping you from the remarkable idiosyncrasies of this life. I’m still figuring out how to balance the scales.
I love you. <3 Mama