Dear Baby

What I really want to tell him is to pick up that baby of his and hold her tight, to set the moon on the edge of her crib and to hang her name up in the stars.
— from My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult

Dear Baby,

I want to tell you about your daddy.  I don’t even know where to start.  Maybe with this:  He loves you so, so much.  I mean, of course he does, right?  He’s your dad.  But really, it’s immense and it’s more overt than I imagined.  I thought he’d love you shyly – secretly, even – but it’s big and right out there in the open, and it is something to see.

When we got engaged, he didn’t tell anyone at work (because he didn’t want to answer questions about where and when and details), but he’s had your sonogram picture on his desk at work for months and months – he’s already so proud to be your daddy.  He talks to you in my belly every day, and touches you and gives you kisses.  I assumed that was something he’d only do when it was just us, but he doesn’t care who’s around.  He asks everyone he knows who’s already a parent for advice because he wants to be sure he does right by you.

About six weeks ago, he had a bad day at work.  On his way out, a co-worker asked him how his day was.  He said, “It was terrible, but I don’t care, because tonight I get to go home and put my daughter’s dresser together.”  When he got home and told me this story, he said, “I’m beginning to realize what’s really important.  Work only matters as a means to an end.  She, and you, are what really matter.”

He has excitedly put together every piece of equipment and furniture you have amassed, and even when the process is frustrating, he delights in the end result, imagining how happy you’ll be swaying in your swing or kicking your feet while lying in your crib.  He has installed and removed and reinstalled your carseat at least twice in each car, wanting to be extra sure that it’s as safe as it can possibly be.

I knew when we got together, of course, that he’d be a good dad,  but I assumed he’d be a more hands-off dad, or at least the kind of dad who’s more comfortable with older kids (he’s great with your cousins).  But we took a breastfeeding class, and there were fake babies, and your daddy held our baby the entire time except when I was practicing with her.  He cradled her, and rubbed her back, and made sure her diaper was on right, and patted her belly.  When he’d hand her to me, I’d grab her by the arm – she was fake, after all – and he’d give me a look and say, “You have to support her neck.”  It’s cliche, but true: I fell in love with him even more that day.

I don’t want you to think his giant love for you means you’re going to get away with anything, though.  He’s already steeling himself for the onslaught of puppy dog eyes and “Daddy, please” in a sweet little voice.  He’s not going to be a pushover.  And when you’re bigger and you think that he’s the meanest father in the universe and he just doesn’t understand you,  I’m going to show you this.  You might still be right that he doesn’t understand you, but at least you’ll know that he has loved you since before we even knew you were you and that all he wants is to be the best dad he can be.

See you soon, baby girl.




Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence
— Alanis Morissette, Thank You

Today’s Writing Group prompt: Gratitude. Write a thank you note you’ve never sent, can’t send or can’t express.

Dear Dr. Ditto,

I don’t know if you remember me.  I came to you nearly 11 years ago only a few days after the worst day of my life.  I was 25 and terrified.  My world was upside down and I desperately wanted you to tell me it could be set right side up again.  You didn’t, of course; you couldn’t.  There’s no cure for the thing – there’s still no name, no one knows what happened – that stole into my room that night while I slept.  I don’t remember your exact words, but the bottom line was: “You might get a little better but, for the most part, this is permanent. I’m sorry.”  Ten months later, I got even worse, and your office was the first place I went, terrified again.  You told me the truth of just how much worse I was and, again, you said, “I’m sorry.”

I want to thank you.  For your expertise, certainly, but mostly for your kindness and your patience.  My parents and I were so scared and had so many questions, and I often spent large amounts of my time in your exam room in tears.  You told me I’d never get better in the gentlest way possible, but also made sure I knew that you and your staff – Kim was my angel, you know – would help me navigate my new life.  You made sure I knew that this wasn’t the end, even if I was sure it was.  When we wanted second and third opinions, you pointed us to the best places – UVA and Johns Hopkins – and called ahead for us.  When I decided to go ahead with my surgery, you gave me your blessing and a recommendation for one of the best implant centers in the country.  You gave me the map, but you let me chart my own course.  And I always knew you were rooting for me.

I should actually send this letter, or a less flowery version of it.  I think you’d be so pleased to see where I am now.  Nearly 36 and so different from the sad, broken girl in your office all those years ago.  I finished law school, you know.  You helped; you wrote the letter that made them get the best accommodations for me, that made it possible for me not just to attend, but to kind of kick ass, too.  Thanks for having my back.

I Googled you just now.  You’re still practicing, and I’m glad.  I think the world’s a better place for it.  I hope you’re well.



Dear Mimi

We should all have one person who knows how to bless us despite the evidence; Grandmother was that person to me.
— Phyllis Theroux

Dear Mimi,

When you came to visit a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  You’d finished your chemo and had surgery but hadn’t started radiation, and I hadn’t seen you since February, before you started any treatments.  When you got out of the car, I was surprised.  Nate didn’t tell me you don’t wear your wig.  Your gray hair is beautiful.  I know it’s hard for you, but it really is so pretty.  It doesn’t make you look old, either, if that’s what you’re worried about.

I was sitting across from you at dinner, and it all of a sudden hit me that, one day, you won’t be here anymore. Not because of the cancer — you’re winning that fight — but because that’s true of all of us.  And in the car on the way home, I told David and I just started sobbing.  I’m 35 years old, and there’s never been a time when you haven’t been a huge part of my life, and I can’t even imagine a time when you won’t be.  I don’t know what kinds of relationships most people have with their grandmothers, but I think ours has always been special.  There’s basically nothing I can’t talk to you about, and I love talking to you.  You knew about David before anyone else in my family, back when he was just “this guy at work that I really like and who really likes me but has a girlfriend.”  And then you accepted him because I love him, even though he doesn’t like cheese or dogs, two of our favorite things.

My father, your son, once asked  me  bewildered, “How did you and Mimi get so close?”  I didn’t have an answer – it’s just always been that way.  Maybe it’s that you raised me for a time.  Maybe it’s that we’re both singers.  Maybe it’s purple tricycles and Strawberry Shortcake dolls at your office.  Maybe it’s dinosaur dishes at Fort Detrick.  Maybe it’s Paris and Nice.  Whatever it is, I want to hold on to it always, and I don’t think I’ll ever be prepared to let it go.  I love you.


Open Letter 7

“When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently.  That was the point.”
— Barack Obama

Dear Downstairs Neighbor,

I know it’s Friday night/early Saturday morning, and you’re young, and you just want to have fun.  That’s all well and good, but the next time I get a contact high just from walking into my building, I’m going to call the police.  Haven’t you been to college?  Put a wet towel at the  bottom of the door.