It began with a painful and exhilarating walk into the hospital, five and a half years ago.
And left us walking out of that hospital 24 hours later, with no baby in the backseat.
Instead, our footsteps took us, every day, multiple times a day, into the nearby NICU, where we paced around worriedly next to your isolette.
After we were able to be discharged from the NICU, we carried you into our home to meet your big brother, and our trek was almost completely confined to those walls for many months as we learned to care for your skin.
Months turned to years, and finally, our steps became your steps. You let go and learned to walk on your own… cautiously, carefully, never too far.
We’ve spent the vast majority of the last 5.5 years by your side…pushing your swing at the park, shuffling into doctors offices, piggyback rides up to bed.
And tomorrow, you will walk into your classroom to start a new journey. And only you can determine where you will go from there.
My sweet child, on this day before you begin Kindergarten…
Oh, the the places you’ve been – and the places you will now go.
I know you will stand for big things, because of where you’ve treaded before. I know your pain has brought forth great concern and compassion for others. I know your fears have elicited deeper empathy and understanding. And I know the courage you’ve had to cling to has found a strength and capability that we are grateful for.
I have been asked, again and again, how I am feeling, if I will cry as I walk away from school tomorrow.
If there will be tears, they will fall because of pride for who you are and the impact I know you will make on those you walk beside. If there will be tears, they will come from the gratitude of this milestone, not from the grief of any kind of loss. Because there were more than a few times that we didn’t know if we’d see this day, if we’d get to experience the excitement of you starting school.
That kind of uncertainty changes a person, a mother. It molds your emotions for new changes into those blooming with celebratory appreciation rather than nostalgic back-pedaling.
When I say “I can’t believe it’s here,” I don’t mean that the last five years went quickly. I mean that I can’t believe you’re here, going to full-time school. From your arrival as a critically ill newborn who has already climbed some tough mountains in your short life, I am awed by the way you are thriving today. Loving deeply, living big and wide and loud.
Tomorrow, you will take your steps into your Kindergarten classroom. You will walk into new relationships, new feelings, new challenges.
And I pray with each step that you never forget who you are: an ambitious, compassionate person lovingly created by the Lord just as you are, with many gifts to offer the world and the opportunity to make a huge positive difference in many lives as you strive to live out your God-given purpose.
Happy First Day of School, beautiful girl.