When I was in high school, my Spanish teacher told my friend Katie and me that she hoped her daughter would grow up to be like us one day.
Señora actually said that.
Her daughter was probably in early elementary school then, which means she is now older than we were when we were in high school. Sigh.
But on that day, we were staying after school to help with something in her classroom. It might have been when we were seniors and our classes were officially over but we were there hanging out before graduation. Taking bulletin boards down. Filing away books. We were nerds like that, so it’s imaginable.
And we’d had Señora for a few years. She knew us pretty well.
Still, I remember being surprised at her comment, surprised that she thought so highly of us. That she wanted her daughter to be like us.
That’s huge, right?
Well, I know now what it is like to be a mother with daughters.
I know what it is like to see strong, smart, beautiful women, so confident and courageous and determined to make a difference in the world, so full of conviction and love, to see those young women and think of you and of what you will be in the world, do in the world, how you will live in the world, how you will love in the world.
Because that’s what Señora was really saying. She was talking more about her daughter than about us.
Sort of like how in these letters when I’m talking about myself and telling my random stories, I’m really talking about you, my dreams for you, writing my stories for you.
Because you are the words of my stories, the strokes of the brush in my paintings, the captions in my photos, the tap-tap-tap of the keys right here in front of me as I type this.
I can’t believe there have been nearly fifty letters so far. Every day, sometimes multiple times a day, I think of an idea for a letter. But life usually gets in the way, so I tuck those ideas down into the pockets of my heart, or if I’m lucky the pages of a journal, and hope to revisit those thoughts some day.
And some days I do.
I’m still friends with Katie. She’s got two little girls herself, her youngest almost exactly the same age as you, Goose. Less than a week difference in your birthdays, I think. I’m guessing she knows what it’s like to wonder about their futures, because that’s what we moms do. On our lesser days, we think of all the bad things that could happen. But on our better days, it’s not worry. On our best days, it’s all dreams of grace and courage and confidence and love.
That’s the you I want you to see as you read through these letters. The you that I can already see you to be, the you that embodies all the wonder and sacrament and joy and heartache of being the hands and feet of Jesus in the word.
You know what?
Katie texted me a picture the other day. The caption for the photo came through before the photo itself did.
Guess who I found at Panera today?!?!? Katie exclaimed, with her typical excitement. And when the picture popped up, you know what it was?
It was Katie standing beside Señora.
And that’s when I remembered what she had said those sixteen years ago to a younger version of myself.
And that’s when I wanted to write you this letter.