I can still remember you being handed to me, tiny, wrinkled, wailing. A shock full of dark hair. So beautiful.
I had never before been so happy that I cried. And boy, did I cry. Your aunts to this day make fun of me for it.
I didn’t really care. I was too proud and happy.
Years pass very quickly. Milestones pass us – first steps, first teeth, first grade, first dance, first drive.
This is a new first.
You’re still our child, but now, you’re our adult child.
New beginnings for all of us.
Certainly, I would have much rather we celebrated it with you here in our house, your safe little haven for 18 years now. It’s still your safe haven, you know.
Only now, you’ve started on a new adventure. I know we had more tears yesterday when we left you in your small dorm room, many of them driven by an enormous amount of pride that I feel because somehow God saw fit for us to be a family.
But, some of those tears are sadness, too. Your absence will be felt in the empty spaces in conversation, a bit of quietness in our home. It will be welcomed when you visit, without a doubt. Anticipated, even, until you return.
So, on the day of your 18th birthday, I just want you to know some things.
I told you this yesterday, and I want to make sure you understand it clearly: I am very proud of you.
Let those words really sink in.
I am proud of you.
I am proud of the person that you have become. You are a wonderful person who is a good friend and a great sister.
Seeing you interact with children on the streets of Guatemala left me speechless. Until we went with you on that trip, I had never seen that side of you. To see your heart revealed in how you loved on those youngsters certainly gave me an insight into what all of our hearts should be.
You have an amazing musical talent. I know how hard you have worked, how many hours you have practiced and the hard work you have put into improving your abilities.
We couldn’t be prouder.
Dropping you off at college yesterday was not easy, obviously. Sitting through the “New Beginnings” convocation was very revealing, though. Not only do you start a new and very formative chapter in your life, we have begun an adjustment to your adulthood. I have no doubt that you are prepared for this next stage in your life.
And, I’m very excited to see where this journey will take you.
Happy 18th birthday, my beautiful Katie. I love you.