Today you are one year old. Your age is no longer relegated to the obligatory month-count; when folks ask how old you are, I can now say, “she’s one.” You’re one. Already your life of one year is replete with memories, none that you’ll remember, and some of which, for me, will certainly collapse under the weight of time. But there are many, many moments, hallmarks and milestones that have stitched themselves onto the fabric of my life. And because you won’t remember, there are stacks upon stacks of images, both in video and photograph, that document this first year.
There is still clarity in many of those memories, but the raw pink flesh of newborness and motherhood have since callused over. Who you and I are today are not the gals we were then. More than anything, you have single-handedly taught me to trust my instincts. That mother’s intuition is the real deal, and no one knows you better than I do, my darling. No one, not even, dare I say it, your dad.
This past year wasn’t always masked in buttery bokeh and soft twinkling light. There were more than enough pitfalls and days laden with a suffocation I was certain would get the better of me – but somehow, we weathered the mighty white-capped swells. And in doing so, something has been forged between us, you and me. It was built in the fractured menagerie of all the hours and minutes of the past year. In the innumerable tears spilled, the frustrations, and the successes. It was built in the time spent making your food from scratch and spooning the brightly colored purees into your little bird mouth. Learning each chord of your cry, my ear tuned to precision, often times in scattered fragments of desperation. In washing and folding your miniature clothing, the socks unfathomably tiny. In the naps you took on my chest, your face turned up to mine so that every exhale was my inhale, your breath and the weight of your body an intoxicating elixir.
While I mourn the passing of your babyhood, I am giddy with excitement over what lies ahead. Your proficiency in walking will lead to running, and beyond. Your babbling and the few words in your vernacular will turn into phrases and then sentences. We will go places that you will be able to experience and understand in a way that you could not as an infant. Through your eyes, I will see the world anew.
This life you begun a year ago is off to a remarkable start. I can only hope that down the road, when we enter the quivering grounds of the pre-teen and teenage landscapes, you don’t disappear for too long, that even though you may become distant, you will always be just on the horizon. My hope is that by then we will have built such a strong relationship it is able to weather any dark storms. A mama can wish, right? Let’s not be the cliché.
Last night you fell asleep, a baby, under a gloriously bright moon. Today you wake up a wide-eyed toddler. Tonight we will sing Happy Birthday to you, and the very same style of Cuban cake your mama ate when she turned one, will be the cake you get to have as well.
Happy birthday, my sweet Lucille.