I got the news of your birth while I was at work. Shrieked. Showed the friends I was with pictures of your tiny red face and your beaming parents. “Congratulations, Aunt Ruby.” It ran through my head over and over. What the responsibility of being an aunt means. What my own aunts mean to me. I think about the times I’ve called them crying. The times they’ve called me. All the talks we’ve had about how simple and beautiful and hard and devastating life can be. How resilient they are. How resilient we all are. What a strong family you have come into. After fifty hours of labor, I’m getting the feeling you’re pretty strong, too.
And you’re going to have to be. You’ll learn quickly how challenging living is. How exhausting just existing can be. You’ll learn all about heartache and suffering. But you are strong, just like your mother, and you will continue. We all do.
Perhaps I’m not the one to tell you of the joys of life. I’m just crawling back from the edge and you probably know more about them right now than I do. But I want you to know that I will always teach you of fierceness. If I can accomplish one thing in our relationship it will be to show you how hard we can fight for ourselves. And to never confuse that fight with toughness or stoicism. To fight with a passion and a fire and a caring so magnificent it cannot be smothered out by the hardship of existence. You do not need to be tough, you do not need to build impenetrable walls. You only need to learn resilience. To trudge forward despite how hard it is. Everything else is just background. Thrown in for interest and texture. You will learn, we will learn together, that everything is piled on our own foundation and we are the ones who build it.
I will not fill you with false promises. I will not overload you with ideas about who you should be or how capable I’m sure you are. I will not tell you you can do anything. I want you to show me. Even when you think I’m not watching.
I love you.