For my sweet Coura Joanies:
As I attempt to color your beautiful world with words, I have to start with the truth. Your first year of life was the most challenging of mine. A transition into a whole new existence that neither of us saw coming. And yet, you never left my side through it all – our bright light behind the dark clouds. From the day you were born, you’ve been my teacher. You make me want to be present in the moment, stepping outside of my chatty brain to enter your world of endless possibilities.
Thank God for your deep belly laughs, your big cheesy grin and the way you liked to speed-crawl across the hardwood floor with your head down. You are coordinated, determined and always in motion. Climbing is first nature for you, which goes hand-in-hand with your rock-solid glutes. You are a lover of fine foods with a special palette for noodles and raspberries. Anytime music comes on, you stop in your tracks for a signature move: a unique mix of the booty bounce and a side-to-side sway.
Your sister’s scooter is the current object of your affection. Scratch that: you love riding on, sitting on, chewing on or being near anything that is Maisley’s, including the legend herself. I love seeing you two together. You make Maisley brave and she does the same for you, and my sisters do the same for me. You will always be your own person with your own preferences, but her steady influence will also be your guide. Someone to test the waters so you can later jump in with ease.
One day, at any moment, you will enter toddler-hood. I now know what that means – for better, for worse – but until then, your sweet self can do no wrong. I wish I could wrap you up in a baby carrier onto my heart forever, tied just as you are now so that I can come here anytime I need to feel your silky smooth skin, thick auburn hair, determination, goofy-loving heart and life-giving courage.
Poppi didn’t cry often, but he got choked up when he first heard your beautiful name. You were named after Grandma Joan, his mom. She was a loud-whistlin’, fun-lovin’ lady who made a mean broccoli chicken casserole, hosted the best parties and always had a trick up her sleeve. She was a bright light, just like you are. In addition to loving your name, Poppi loved holding you in his arms any chance he got, soaking up your calming, Heaven-sent presence. Even though you only knew him for a short time, he is a part of you and forever your trusted angel advisor.
Just like we all the know the story about Aunt Linny eating a cigarette butt when she was little, you will reluctantly grow up hearing about the time you ate dog poop. Though, I hope the stories you hold onto at your core are the ones about how you didn’t stop laughing and smiling from the day you learned how. I hope you see photos of your baby self that reflect your patience and optimism. I hope you hold onto the moments where you gave me strength when I didn’t think I had anything left. I hope you have beautiful babies when you grow up and understand how much bigger the love is than any frustration or moments of sadness.
Thank you for all that you are. We love you forever and ever my sweet baby Jo.