Dear Baby Girl,
I want you to know that you are well loved and that you have an amazingly wonderful family.
You will never remember the week after Little Brother was born. You will never remember the move from Key West or the one from Daytona. You will never remember your first Thanksgiving, your first Christmas or your first birthday. You will never remember the day you and Little Brother were baptized. Most people don’t.
But I really wish you would. They are all proof that you have one of the most amazing extended families any girl could possibly wish for.
Your Grandaddy used to tell me all the time that everyone in this world has two families. We have the family we are born into, a family we have no say in or control over, a family who (is supposed to) love us no matter what and whom (usually) we love unconditionally in return, even if we don’t always like them all that much. Then there’s the family we choose.
This chosen family is not just your husband, wife, significant other or whoever you decide to spend your life with. This family is also your surrogate aunts and uncles, your godparents, your friends, the people that know the real you, inside and out, see you at your worst, and still love you all the more for it. You will choose most of these people. Some of these people will choose you.
The day you were baptized did not go as planned. We scheduled it carefully because I really wanted your Daddy to be able to come and, at that point, we thought he was going to be in town for Christmas. That Sunday, being the day after Christmas, was when we scheduled it, so that he would still be here. Not a normal day for a baptism, but that’s okay. I have never once claimed to be normal, nor do I claim you and Little Brother are such a thing (and that’s okay, sweetie).
Even before that week we realized that it was simply not going to work logistically for your Daddy to come for the baptism, but it was decided to go ahead anyway. Maw-Maw was going to try to come from North Carolina. Most of Nana’s family was going to be in Athens for Christmas, so they would come visit. Your Roy and Sherri were planning to come and so would Grandma. Your Gigi and Dandy had scheduled to be away from their churches so they would be there, and were even going to help. Dr. Hinman, the associate at the church and a friend of your Gigi and Dandy, was going to be the one actually performing the baptism, which was actually a rather big deal for us.
And then Nature decided to have other plans. Decatur had a white Christmas, a real white Christmas, with accumulating snow and everything, for the first time in one hundred and twenty eight years. (P.S. You liked the white Christmas too, another thing I am sad you will not remember. But oh goodness did you love that snow that year.) The day of your baptism was the day after Christmas and, the roads being wet and the weather being awfully cold, as it were, we went to bed Christmas night not knowing what the morning would bring, be it ice, snow, closed churches, a baptism, family or anything.
Well, the roads close to us didn’t ice too bad, but North Carolina was snowed it, Athens was beyond icy roads that simply weren’t safely travelable. Church was not canceled; Gigi and Dandy felt comfortable driving in from the Farm. So Nana and I made the decision to go one with your baptism as planned, knowing that whoever was there would be there and it would be fine. What mattered was that Gigi and Dandy could be here, and the promise I was making, and the church was making, to you and God. The rest was just icing on the cake. So we went to church, expecting a small gathering and not many people in our pew.
Then your Aunt Sue called just before we left, asking if we were still on. She would come if we were. Your Grandma and Gigi and Dandy met us at the church. Your Grandma Susie showed up a bit later; your Aunt Sherry and Whit put off leaving to visit their grandchildren in Florida so they could come. Your Allen appeared (as I say out of nowhere), braving the weather and missing church at her own church just to see you. Your Aunt Daire left Miss Marion with a friend just so she could come see you. Miss Harriet and her husband were in church and so were Mr. Hudson, Miss Linda, Mr. John and, of course, Dr. Hinman.
And we thought our family wouldn’t be there.
After church, we had planned to feed friends and family. We had food for forty and about twelve coming, so we invited everyone. And many people came. We talked and we laughed and you played and we ate. You ran in circles around the couches in the Club Room. You were so excited you didn’t know what to do with yourself.
You were baptized. And while all your blood family might not have been there, you were surrounded by family that loves you so very much they would move their schedules, change their plans, brave snowy, icy roads and crazy drivers, and go out of their way to be with you on a day that is important in your life, even if the “event” only lasts a few minutes.
You are amazingly loved, no matter what you might think and no matter what, you will never ever ever be alone. We will always be here for you and will always love you.
Please don’t ever forget that.