It is very nearly midnight and your sixth birthday is coming to a close. You are still awake and laying in my bed. That’s not where you started but I heard you taking advantage of the empty pillow since your little sister is at Grammy’s for the night.
Listen here Missy, you are not too big for me to carry you back to bed. In fact, you are quite small for a (new) six-year-old at 43″ tall and 45 pounds. A peanut really. You didn’t start out that way, of course. You have only now doubled in weight from your first birthday!
Did you know that you have been alive longer than Daddy and I were married? That’s crazy to think about but it’s been in my head all day. That, and the first time I got to see your wide eyes looking into mine and how alert you were. But mostly, I think about Daddy.
I think about the time that you had with him and how you never knew anything but pure adoration from him. He worked and worked and worked so that I could stay home with you and so that you wouldn’t have to go to daycare. It was very important to him that you and I could stay so connected. You see, he always knew what I needed. What we both needed.
And because his time with you was shorter, he made the most of it. He gave you your first taste of ice cream. And made your first waffle. He helped you with your first crayon drawings by holding the crayon in your pudgy hand with you and making those first scribbles. He assembled the Radioflyer wagon the night before your first Christmas and then sat you in it! You were barely 5 months old and could hardly see over the sides.
He was the one that insisted that we bring you into our bed with us. He couldn’t bear the thought of being apart from you. He knew what was best for all of us.
You are your father’s daughter in so many ways. Your eyes. Your smile. Your feet and your body shape. Your taste for yellow mustard was definitely his because I can’t stand the stuff. And, like you, he was able to carry on with a complete stranger about a random story that they probably don’t know and don’t care about. He could talk to anyone about anything at any time.
Ella, I named you the day we found out that you were growing inside me. I just knew. Eleanor means “light”. You started growing only a few months after your big brother died. At the time, it was very sad for me and there wasn’t much to look forward to. You changed all that.
You saved me. You were my light.
I know. That’s a ton of pressure to put on a little baby but it’s true. You and the thought of you and the planning for you and the dreaming about you…that’s what got me through that first year.
You are still my light, did you know that? You make me laugh every day. You are the one who blazes the path for all of us; the driving force in this little family. If it were up to me, I would have frozen us all sometime in 2007 and you would still be 3 years old and Melia would be 1 and we would just live over and over again a winter’s day and eventually, maybe, get it all right.
It doesn’t work that way, of course. But you are the one who keeps us moving forward. You are the one who keeps growing and changing and adding new challenges and plowing through life. Amelia and I just follow your lead.
I wish I could give you more. I wish that we didn’t have to go through this life without your daddy.
And then you smile at me. Or laugh at something ridiculous. And leave your balled up socks all over the living room and drop napkins on the dining room floor. You touch every person you love. When you watch TV with me, you scratch my back and I don’t think you even know you’re doing it.
Ella, I love you so much. You are my “light”, truly. I am proud of the young lady you are becoming and I am blessed to be with you every single day.
Happy 6th birthday, sweetheart.