With A Cherry On Top

Stripes and flowers and dreams

Dear Zuzu,

You turned four years old on Saturday.

There was no party.

Life has been a little big for mommy lately and the thought of streamers, cake and a roomful of other four year olds was more than I could face. All I wanted was a day with just you and your daddy. A few hours where we could stop time and remember how incredible it is that we get to be on this journey together. We told you we would do anything you wanted. You asked for lunch at Chick-Fil-A, so we went and let you get soda and ice cream. I told you the flowers on the table were just for your birthday. Then on to a store to pick out a new Sunday dress. You did not take the decision lightly. Your concern was real and your daddy and I had to hold you and let you reason the whole thing out. A little dress with tulle and stripes finally won the day. Next (because I really did feel badly about the lack of streamers) we went to the Disney Store. You could pick any one thing you wanted and you danced around the store shouting “Oh, Mommy! Daddy! It is just so magical. It’s wonderful!” We left with a Rapunzel doll with sparkles and bows and hair to her toes. You are sleeping next to her right now.

The day ended at the hospital with Gammy and Papa. Papa is still sick and his hospital room is bare of everything but machine and wire. But you, my darling, are proving to be adaptable when it truly matters. So you bounded in the door and danced and sang just like it was his home, just like it was your home. And in that moment, not for the first time, you taught me a lesson. What is the uncertainty of tomorrow when we have frosting and magic and love and one another today?

It is a lesson I will need to learn again and one I hope you remember.

Zuzu you are a bright spot in our already light lives. Your days are spent in song and the occasional tears. I suppose I can’t think of a better way to grow up. Only four years of blinking into the sun and I marvel at the things you have gathered up and brought inside of you. You love princesses and happy endings and sugared flowers, yes. But you can also tell me what is inside a volcano and you love the way words can capture both the familiar and newly discovered. You are hungry for this world and its truths, big and small. It is an appetite I pray you never lose.

More important than the things you gather, are the things that were already inside of you when you came to us. You are kind. Zuzu, you stop people in the mall to tell them they are beautiful. When I cry, and over the past two months I have cried, you put your little hand to my cheek and tell me everything is alright. You are full of love. The stuff brims out of you, spilling about and growing flowers behind you as you walk. Never is this more true than when it comes to your little sister. She is your best friend and your favorite cause. You are her protector and she looks at you like you made the morning. You are strong. My goodness, girl. You can bend nails and bed time. You know what you want and you know exactly who you are. You wake up ready to impose your will on the day. And even with the tantrums and misunderstandings and no! I don’t wannas, I wouldn't have it any other way.

What can I give you on this fourth birthday? This year that started without sparkle and streamers and cakes lit with fire? Only this. I love you, my darling girl. It is the kind of love that would gather the stars and drop them at your feet. The kind that sits up with you at night and hopes for you in the morning. It’s a love that seems like it cannot grow bigger but every day grows deeper. It opens my heart and breaks it and puts it back together again. It is wish and promise and blessing.

Next year we will have a party. This year it was enough to have each other.