For my daughter, on her graduation from high school

For my daughter, on her graduation from high school

When you were born there were so many things I didn’t know. I didn’t know that love would feel like fear, that the two would intertwine, with anxiety and worry wrapped around the thick stalk of love. I feared the universe would harm you, and if the universe harmed you, then I would disintegrate. I would turn to dust and be blown away.

But this is what I know now and wish I knew then.

Love can be free of fear. I can ask the fear and worry and anxiety to unwind from my love for you. And when they do, I can see you more clearly.

You and the universe have your own arrangement, and you can bear the weight of it on your own shoulders.

This is what I know now, but I wish I knew then. You have been hurt. You have been swept up in your own storms and your bones have been rattled. You have been tested.

But, you are strong, and you have been able to stand back up when you’ve fallen down. Sometimes your papa and I have helped you get your balance, but mostly you’ve done it on your own.

This is one of my favorite memories of you: we were at a party, you, papa and I. Somehow all of us at this party managed to be sitting in a ragged circle, balancing our food and drinks on our laps as we sat criss-cross applesauce.

Papa was across the room from you and me, and you caught sight of him. I was talking and laughing, looking away from you, when I heard someone whisper my name,

“Kerri. Look.” It was an intense whisper.

You saw your papa and you wanted to go to him. You were standing, wobbling a bit. At home you were cruising around the coffee table and couch, but not taking steps on your own.

On that Saturday night in October, you did take a step. And, you kept taking steps until you got to your papa.

You walked across the carpet while everyone in the room held their breath. You wobbled, but you kept moving forward. You saw what you wanted and you got there.

So very like you. You’ve never been one to take baby steps. Your first steps were a walk across the room.

Oh, I how I wish I knew then what I know now. That you would inspire in me a love that is pure joy.

This damned world is so full of potholes. You’re going to trip again and again. Sometimes you’re going to fall flat on your face. You’ll reach out for those around you, and they’ll help you back up.

Or, you’ll use those dancer legs and stand with no help at all.

But, you know what? This damned world is so full of beauty, too. And, you’ll dance, as you’ve always danced.

I wish I knew then what I know now. The fear is wasted, but the love is not.

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