Dear Debbie Joy,
This part of your letter is about you:
You are finally three. The last year of your life has included a move to rural Tennessee, the birth of imaginative play, a growing awareness of worship and theology, and a professed vocation of Princess-Professorship. It also included an awful head injury, the flu, and several incidents of racial bias. You have been mistaken for age 5 because of your impressive verbal abilities and for “Oriental” because of the color of your skin.
You love Disney movies, reading the Bible and every other book we own, and busting some moves on the dance floor. You have become tentative among strangers, but once someone shows you they’re not “rude” (as you say), you talk up a storm. When a classmate behaves unfairly, you are the first to show just indignation. You plan to marry your classmate, H., but tell me that Lucas, our good friend from Brazil, is your “handsome prince.”
You call me “my love,” “sweetie,” and “baby.” You make me take off my socks because you tell me I’m going to slip. You read my emotions like the books you love so much, even when they go unspoken. You (Cinderella/Ariel/Tiana) conscript Gabby into the role of the prince, and together you go to the ball. You hold her hands and spin slowly in a circle, singing, “So this is love…Mmmhhhmmm…My heart has wings…Mmmhhhmmm.” You save the rough-and-tumble games for your daddy, always asking, “Can I tackle you ONE MORE TIME?”
This part of your letter is about me:
Before you were born, I didn’t know the fierceness of my determination to protect another human. I didn’t know the heat of my anger towards racism or exploitation of children. I didn’t know the strength it would take to bear a child, once through my body, but every day through life. I didn’t know the extent of my commitment to give you the best life I know how.
Before you were born, I didn’t know what it would feel like to love, unconditionally, another human.
I am so extraordinary grateful for you, Deborah Joy. Your life has marked mine in the best way possible. Happy 3rd Birthday, my beautiful, brilliant, brave girl.