When I see your face, your uninterrupted innocence, and feel the silkiness of your cheek when you rub it against mine in affection I am mesmerized. I am awestruck and grateful for the simplicity in your joy and outlook in life; by your dreams full of cotton candy clouds, rainbows bursting through the sky, pink princesses leading the world; and your mommy loved above it all.
You hold my hand, tilt your head to the side, giving me one of your crooked half smiles that can’t contain itself and I am filled with a radiating warmth that makes the world around me livelier.
I work hard instilling a joy for life, an appreciation for everything around us; whether it is observing the morning dew glittering on a blade of lime green grass or sitting quietly taking in the fiery and purple hues of our LA sunsets. I pray, in my own way, that you take what happiness you can from each moment in life and that these moments become a permanent state of happiness for you.
Each time I threw a penny in a wishing pond, each time an eyelash fell and we pressed it against our fingers, every birthday cake wish since I’ve had you two, I have fervently wished that you grow to be Happy and Kind – wonderful women.
Along the way of finding ways to improve your chances of a better tomorrow, I have found bits and pieces of happiness myself. As I looked for a better education for the two of you, I found a way to use my skills to volunteer and received a higher sense of fulfillment. As I pushed you into the arts, I became immersed in a colorful world of music, acting and dance.
We have grown happier together. We have grown stronger together.
Today you are seven years old.
I was 21 and a mother of two with a growing sense of dread and an urgent need to raise you on my own before you were marred with witnessing what I did as a child.
No one knew what went on nor do they need to know. I set out with the two of you and we carried on as three. It is the hardest decision I have ever made. Not because of what I needed but for fear that I was being weak by not putting up with a bad situation so you could have your father.
In many ways I have never been a child but more of a half adult. I experienced life’s travails and physical exigencies while still trapped in a child’s body. Like a Matryoshka doll, I forced forward the strength of an adult to appease the need of others when inside I was physically and deep down, emotionally, still a child.
But since the first moment I laid eyes on you, I Loved you. You were my renewed link to life in many ways, my dear. With time, I have found my own place, independent of you two, I discovered self-love. But what remains unchanged are the tears that threaten to spill from my eyes, the ache in my chest, in my soul, when I think of you and the love I have for you.
I say all this in tribute to you; to the strength that you have as a seven year old, to have lived through the many low’s that life dealt us in the past but retaining only the good.
You take heart in the beauty of dying embers even when the fire burned.
Your eyes, full of honest and raw adoration looked up at me and thanked me for a weekend that reminded you of how special you are. I will never forget what you told me that night. I share it in hope that it inspires the formerly unloved to focus on the care and love of their own children instead on love that was not received.
The night was bitingly cold but we happily lingered in the moment as we walked back from your birthday dinner. I took your small fingers in my hand and caressed them with the magic that hung, suspended in the air.
You stopped and looked up at me, your eyes shining with tenderness, and asked me,
“Mommy, you know how you can happy cry?”
“When you read me your card, you made me happy cry.”
—The contents of said birthday card will remain private because I whispered those words, meant only for you, into your ear—
“Iza, you’re making me happy cry now.”
“Thank you Mommy.” And you hugged me tightly.
That in a life continuously assaulted with the love for Things, with the need of bigger, better, brighter!, you chose to focus on and appreciate the love that I show you, made my wish come true.