DISCLAIMER: This is an original piece, and as such the characters, although unnamed, belong to me. *Yeah!* I'm hoping that one day in the near future this little scenario does come to pass.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The "Love" Letter
"Meema, what's a love letter?" asked the youngest member of my family.
My first thought was to inquire as to why a six year old was asking this question. After all, six was a little young to be enmeshed in matters of the heart. One should at least wait until ten or eleven to fall in love (that was my take on the matter). Though my wife does insist that we encourage him to ask questions and that we answer them honestly. Unfortunately, she's not the one who has to answer such serious questions.
"Why do you need to know?" I asked, stalling for time, for my wife to come back, anything.
"Ms. Kane says that if you really love someone, you should write them a love letter."
"And who's the person you want to send a love letter to?"
"I have lots of people. You, mommy, the whole family," came the earnest reply.
I barely restrained myself from laughing at the profound reply. Why, I wondered, did I automatically think of romance upon hearing the words "love letter"? Sending a letter to someone that is loved is also a love letter and often times much more cherished than those of a lover.
"Well, that's true; a love letter can be written to someone that you love a lot. So tell me, what would you write in a letter like that?"
"I didn't really think about it 'cause there's so many people," he said.
"Let's say you're writing the letter to your family, all of them, not just mommy and me."
"I have to think about it. Are you going to write one too?"
"Yes," I replied.
"To who?" he asked.
"I love you a lot and I want you to know that, even when you're all grown up."
"Okay, I'll go write my letter and you write yours and then we'll read them together." With that pronouncement, he was off.
I sat there and pondered as to what I should include in this letter. I wanted to say so many things, some things would be beyond his comprehension until he was older, some which might be trite but were true. How could all those things be condensed into one letter?
I grabbed a pad of paper and a pen to begin writing a "love" letter to the little boy of today and to the man he would become.
I don't know how much time had passed, maybe an hour or more. My son was at a friend's house, after making me promise that I would read the letter to him before bedtime. I looked at the crumpled papers on the floor representing botched attempts. The current page had a lot of cross out and words squeezed above sentences or in the margins but I was proud of what I had written.
My dearest child,
There are so many things that I want to tell you that I'm not sure where to begin. I suppose I should start at the beginning. My joy was beyond measure when I learned about you. I bought so many books, asked so many questions to everyone that had a child about what to do, what to teach you, how to be the best parent. I thought I was so ready, I knew so many things, and I would share them all with you. As someone very wise once said, "Man plans, God laughs." This was definitely true on the day that I first held you in my arms. Words cannot describe the wonder I felt or the fear. All that I had read and heard seemed to vanish from my mind. All I could think was that I had the privilege and responsibility to show you the ways of the world. How in the world was I going to manage?
Getting to know you continues to be an absolute pleasure. I learned the joy to be had in a game of peek-a-boo, the wonder of watching birds fly, the magic of story. I learned that contentment could be found in a lullaby, hummed softly as you drifted into a nap. Of course there were some drawbacks too. For example, I never got used to the 2 AM feedings (I left those to Mommy for which she still hasn't forgiven me). I hated feeling helpless when you were sick. And I loathed the fear that despite my best efforts, you might get hurt.
I wanted so badly to be the perfect parent and instead I found that what you needed was a good parent. I made some mistakes and I am likely going to make more as you get older for which I hope you will forgive me. We will have disagreements I'm sure (you are not getting the car until you're 18) but I will always love you. I promise to listen to what you have to say, even if I think I know better. I promise to respect the person that you are, especially when all I see is the child that you were.
You are my most precious blessing, cherished beyond words, loved always, and forever in my heart.
I looked over the letter once again and decided that was good enough. I don't think there is enough time to tell him all that I would wish but I hope I have conveyed the most important things.
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