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my isabella,

there are so many things i’ve wanted to say to you. from the moment your shock of straight, black hair entered this world – the moment my sight first covered you. your thumbs stuck tightly between your index and middle fingers as your red-faced screaming declared your certain arrival. the sight of you elicited spontaneous laughter from the depths of me. the kind of joy you brought with you was unprecedented in my life. i wanted to say that were so beautiful – so beautiful – it frightened me. such a miraculous being entrusted to me. me – who was i to be given such a gift? this living beauty placed in my arms. i was terrified. i suddenly felt young, immature, unqualified for such a journey. me -still in essence a girl, still fumbling through life, and now here you were – looking to me to grow you, shield you, guide you. the fear of failure reintroduced itself to me in a gripping and demanding way. i wanted to say that i couldn’t do it. i wanted to warn you that the mother you were perhaps expecting was not me. i wanted to say isabella, i want to be the best for you and yet i don’t even know where to start.

but. you left me speechless.

your entrance into my life soon turned into minutes, into hours, into days of weathering your desperate cries, satiating your hunger, rocking your tiny body in my weakened arms. i felt listless and weary wondering when easier times would come. perhaps never, i thought. perhaps this was life from now until forever. i wanted to say that i was getting impatient for you to change, for you to grow out of this – whatever this phase of endless crying was – i wanted to say isabella, please stop.

but. you left me speechless.

i didn’t even notice the transition of you turning into this little girl. i was so focused on you listening, obeying, complying that i didn’t realize that you were no longer nuzzling in my arms. you were running, dancing, singing with an unending thirst for life and i was just trying to keep up. i ran after you and your contagious love of absolutely everything and everyone. i wanted to say isabella, slow down, come rest in my arms, come drift to sleep beneath my gaze.

but. you left me speechless.

i knew with the doctors’ looks of concern for your sister growing in my body that things were going to change. that my life, your daddy’s life, your life, our life was never going to be the same. i felt terrified in a new way when she was born. with you i was terrified of you being so much bigger than life. with lucia, i feared the face of death. and, isabella, i feared that you would have to experience excruciating pain. i was suddenly whisked away from you into doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment. your abuelita, papa and nana all filling in the gaps that i was leaving in the wake of my motherhood. i found myself fumbling through it all in a haze. wishing i could be with you as i sat in countless waiting rooms. bracing myself to hear good news or bad news i would think of you and your shingin smile. and i wanted to say – my sweet precious baby, i miss you. and i wanted to scream: i’m sorry! i am so sorry! i want more than anything to be with you, to not be so miserably tired all of the time, to not be so stupidly filled with so much anxiety! i want so much to just be the mommy you once had. i wanted to scream: isabella, forgive me!

but. i was speechless.

i still remember like it was yesterday the day i sat down in the oversized rocking chair in your room and placed my hands on growing belly. you had been growing inside of me for about five months and i was talking to God about you. i begged Him that day to please give you a compassionate heart, a heart that empathizes with others and cares for others. He answered me. He answered me by placing in you a tender and senstitive compassion for those around you. your sister, your family, your friends…you care for the them first and for yourself second. how is that even possible at this age?! as i’ve watched you give your heart to those around you, i’ve wanted to say be careful. don’t open yourself up so easily. guard yourself or you’re going to feel pain. please, isabella, don’t get hurt.

but. you left me speechless.

you are five years and two months old. in exactly seven days you will start kindergarten. time has poured through our life like running water. you are a rambunctious little girl with an enormous laugh, an enormous sensitivity, an enormous love for those around you. you still love to sing and dance and imagine. your whining is as shrill as your pretend witch’s cackle. i believe you hold inside of you an endless supply of questions. you talk more than anyone i know. my bet is that you could play tag for 48 hours straight and still want more. you laugh harder and more freely than anyone i know. you dream of running as fast as a cheetah. you hope that in heaven God will turn you into a part-time super hero part-time mermaid and that you will walk amongst huge but surprisingly quiet dinosaurs. you are chocolate’s number one fan – you’d eat chocolate every minute of the day if i let you. your favorite color is blue. you long to be whatever age your older cousins are which leaves you perpetually disappointed. you give three hugs and three kisses and take three hugs and three kisses to and from lucia, your daddy and me every single night. when i say may God bless you and protect you as i walk out of your bedroom door – you’ve started saying it back to me – and my heart overflows.

as you walk out into this new world, i have so many things i want to say to you.

i can no longer keep quiet.

isabella, God is always with you. and i pray that He will show that to you each and every day you face this world with courage and love those around you. i know that you may not know or understand the fullness of His love right now, but I am begging Him to reveal it to you on your journey into growing up.

isabella, you have an amazing daddy. the best daddy that i know. don’t ever forget how fortunate you are to have him. though he is not God, God gave Him to you to protect you and guide you as you go through this life. lean on his guidance and advice and love.

isabella, your sister adores you.

isabella, you have an unbelievable family. your abuelita, nana, papa, aunts, uncles, cousins are all there to walk on this journey with you. hold their hands as you go.

isabella, i give you the entirety of my word that i will always be with you – you have all of me – whatever you need from me. you have me and my unconditional love from now until forever. i am continually honored and humbled at being chosen as your mommy.

whenever you don’t know where to run – run home.

and, finally…

isabella. i am so proud of you. the girl that you are now. the woman i know you will grow to be.

you have rendered me speechless.