To and For

To Celia (four), and for Tucker (two) on 3.7.11

Dear Celia,
I sat with you in my lap on the seventh, and while silence reigned for the span of a hundred heartbeats I catalogued my impressions of you.  From the babe who was burning so brightly to the brave soul of a resilient four year old, your spirit has been -and always will be- astronomic.  I am so glad you are part of the unique constellation of people who make up our family. 
You have taught us what we didn't set out to learn, sweet Celia.  Our love has been recast in the stone of your diagnosis, your helplessness and our own; it is fierce and unequivocal, absolute in its allegiance.  Our souls have been scuffed, our hearts are bruised, but with you we are tethered less to this world and more to each other.  From you we have learned that grief can be split up, given away in tiny fragments and instead of hurting fellow mourners, some suggest it might even improve them.
If I ever wonder what made me a mother, a writer, if I tug the thread of that urgent need to love a child or to put marks on paper, it will always lead back to you.  You have given me courage to admit my vulnerabilities, and permission to label unimportant as such.  You remind me that outcomes -mistakes and successes- cannot serve as proof, or indictment, of my competency to mother.
You spend most of the day asleep now, neck bent, knees tucked, trifolded like an old-fashioned letter set to post.  We are so grateful you were delivered to us four years ago.
All My Love,

Dear Tucker,
I try to make the details of the differences between you and your sister seem less interesting, to call your commonalities to the surface instead.  Like her, you make us proud, and you make us happy.  Your sister taught us to set aside any parental entitlements, and there were times we feared grief forevermore.  You've shown us that excessive caution does not equate to guarantees, and I appreciate the way you help me repress my urge to hover, how you amplify my ability to recreate.  We no longer experience unfettered, na├»ve joy, but there is no bigger happiness than that you bring to this family, little boy.
Your intrepid nature and your ready mirth allow me to assume a certain social ease will always be yours.  At two your routines frequently feel as malleable as an iron crowbar, you are as firm in your opinions as a green banana.  Although getting your attention can feel like trying to lasso a gnat, I love that you remind me to slow down, that you are already making observations it took me years to figure out.
You don't upset easily, but when you cry -face red, lips wobbling- you abandon yourself to sadness in the way that toddlers do, the way that knows misery is bottomless and insatiable.  But your tears are only momentary, your attention shifts quickly and absolutely in that young, honest manner and instead it is your giggles and splashes and playful nature that usually frame the scenes of our days.  I've oft mentioned, and photographed, the smiles that crack your face -like a plate breaking- the kind that barely leave room for your cheeks.  You're gorgeous, Tuck, but my favorite feature is the light in your eyes, a vitality that makes you glow from inside, that lends a steady, brilliant beam of hope to our family.

Love Always,


Christy said...

Priceless, Jenni. Thank you for sharing.

The Wendels said...

There are no greater gifts than these words you give your children.

Beth Ann said...

Tears, that's what these letters to your babies gave me. Beautiful and from the heart. Your words continue to amaze me everytime I read them.

Carole said...

Simply beautiful. Your children are so lucky to have you. Your words are so moving and such a gift.

elastamom.com said...

Amazing...these letters, your children, you and Andy.

Debi said...

Beautiful tributes for your precious children.