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A Letter To Cora

Dear Cora:

Well, love, you’ve survived, and given your penchant for
diving into a situation headfirst and asking questions later, your
survival has not always been a safe assumption. But you’ve
made it – you’re officially four years old now.

I think this is the first year you’ve looked forward to your
birthday as something more than just “time to get
presents” day; this year you’ve been very eager about
the act of turning four, of gaining another year, itself. You long
to be the same age as your sister Madeleine, and I’m not sure
when it will sink in that, in spite of your best efforts, you will
never catch up.

Or perhaps, knowing your personality, you’ve already realized
that but refuse to give up trying.

Where to start, kiddo? Your name means
“Heart of a Strong Warrior” or
“Courageous”, and that, my love, you most definitely
are. You are fearless – not just in obvious ways, like
sitting less than a foot from an 18-inch tarantula spider and
simply leaning in eagerly to get closer to the wrangler, but in how
you live out every aspect of your life. You march through your days
assuming people will like you, and by golly, they do. It never
occurs to you that someone might be less than charmed by you, and
your self-assurance will carry you a long way. You tackle new
things – ballet class, or trying a new craft – with
enthusiasm and eagerness, and your excitement is nothing less than

This is not to say that you don’t have your worries and
fears. We had a long few months this past year, getting you to go
to Sunday school without me. Your separation anxiety has been
long-lived and tenacious, but I do believe you’ve conquered
it – at least to an age-appropriate level – and you are
looking forward to preschool in the fall with whole-hearted glee.

Your big passion in life right now is performing; specifically,
dancing. We went to see an afternoon of professional dance
companies perform recently, and you were riveted, even through the
long and repetitive pieces. Quite often you’d start dancing
along with your arms, sitting on the edge of your seat, and you
spent the entire intermission anxiously trying to pull us back into
the theatre, worried we’d miss the start of the second act.
You are quite intuitive and learn quickly just by watching: your
dancing after the performance was significantly more complicated
than your dancing beforehand. In other words, you increased your
vocabulary quite quickly purely by observing. You are happy to
dress up, to put on classical music and dance an hour away, or to
watch a full-length ballet on video.

That’s not to say that you don’t love music, though,
also. Sometimes you’ll get out your microphone stand all by
yourself and sing through an entire album. And I see, when you
begin to sing a character’s song, that you are there in your
mind, feeling the character’s feelings. The stage, for you,
is not a place to bask in the adoration of an audience: it’s
a place to live another life, to go somewhere else in your head.
And I love that about you.

My big-hearted girl, I cannot stop marveling at how generous you
are. When you and your sister get into a fight over something, nine
times out of ten you’re the one to back down simply to make
her happy. You give things away to other kids: I’ve never
seen such joy on your face as the day you gave your old dollhouse
to our local homeless shelter for a little girl who’d just
moved into her first real home. Your heart overflows with a desire
to help, to be kind, to give.

I’m not saying you’re not selfish: you can throw
tantrums and whine and beg with the best of them. But all in all
you hold “things” more loosely in your hands, and I do
love that about you.

Favorite foods right now – I have to say cookies and yogurt
tubes. The yogurt tubes I despair over, if you must know:
it’s such a pile of unnecessary trash for our landfills,
organic yogurt notwithstanding. But that and the organic version of
puffy Cheetos are your favorite “junk foods” right now,
so I roll with it as best I can.

This year you’ve really made some friends of your own, rather
than just being friends with all of Maddie’s friends. I
remember one open gym day when we showed up and several of your
friends – Nate, Addison, and Isabel – were there, and
you yelled excitedly, “Mommy, look! My friends! I have so
many! Mommy,” you turned to me, awestruck, “I’ve
got GUYS!” You recognized that you had your own posse, and
loved it. And just about a month ago at a church cook-out, three or
four little girls said they wanted to sit next to you on a picnic
blanket, and anxiety started mounting. “Guys, GUYS!”
you said, motioning with the classic ‘calm down’ arms,
“Do not worry. We will FIGURE this OUT!”

I have loved having this year with you. With Maddie in
kindergarten, our days are our own and we’ve had some great
times. You are (for the most part) relatively patient about running
errands and usually suffer them with good grace. On days when I
help out in Maddie’s class room, you’re happy to come
along and sit in kindergarten with the other kids while I work
one-on-one in the hallway – and you’re so well-behaved
that the teacher is happy to let you. There are days when you have
special time with Gamma, and you love that as well; you two have
formed quite a bond over the past year. And while we’ve done
some great stuff, it’s the simple times – picnicking,
playing “Peter and the Wolf” on the playground
equipment, riding bikes or scooters together – that I really

What do I pray for you for the next year? That you plunge into
preschool joyfully and wholeheartedly. That you discover the
academic world and love it as much as I do. That you make even more
new friends, and see life through different lenses. That you grow
in grace, in kindness, in beauty, and patience. I see your fierce
loyalty, your passion, and innate joy and know these can never be
squelched, and so I pray those continue to blossom. I pray that
your relationship with God grows even more deeper; you’ve
started learning scripture verses this year and I see a personal
relationship starting, and I’m so happy with that. I pray for
moments of huge breakthroughs and moments of peace and calm. I pray
for your health, for your happiness, for your relationship with
your family.

And most of all, I pray you know how much you are loved. How
grateful I am to have been given stewardship of your life, and how
I will spend my entire life striving to be worthy of that gift. You
are so precious to me, and I will never stop loving you.

Happy birthday, Little Bit!




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