On Friday you turned one year old. I can’t say that this is the first time in my life I am speechless, because I’m afflicted with speechlessness often, but I can say that for the first time in my life I am wordless. Meaning, I actually cannot locate the words in my brain to send down into my fingers and put on this page.
I have thought and I have thought about how I can put what this feels like into words and all that happens in my brain is a quick and grainy lot of images flashing by like silent Super 8 movies, flickering across a lumpy backdrop, starting with the first moment I saw your face and ending with you tonight, sitting in your pretty party dress, surrounded by the people who love you the most.
One year. One magical, wonderful, life-altering year.
So I try to jump start my brain and it sputters to life with an image of me, lying in the hospital, just 366 short days ago, working very hard to bring you into the world. In case you’d like to revisit, it went something like this.
Then another flash and you are home. Your daddy and I, so used to our lives as two, are now three. And after mere days, we can’t imagine it ever having been any other way.
Flash! We are joined by another new life, a tiny, porcelain doll of a girl who I will quickly and seamlessly come to love like a second daughter. Olivia and Aunty Emily become fixtures in our year, rendering the experience twice as nice.
Flash again and it’s spring! Glorious and fresh, you and I are free to wander our city together, tourists in the place I’ve called home forever, but now, with you, everything is brand-new.
Summer arrives like a blinding flash, the sunlight glinting in your beautiful eyes as we laze about at the cottage, enjoying our time with Grandnana and exploring the beach that I love so much. To see you sit in the sand and splash in surf is a life-long dream of mine fulfilled. I’m choked at the image and need to pause. It’s my next dream that we might spend another summer like that, together, before you are too old to want to be there alone with your family.
Suddenly it is fall. Your Aunty Emily and I are running through High Park with you girls in your strollers. We are laughing one minute out of sheer fun, and tearing up the next as we realize how fleeting these precious moments are. Sitting in the fading warmth, sipping coffee and talking about how this moment, right here, can only happen like this once. I look into her eyes and am so grateful to have her, someone who really, truly understands.
Flash! You are sitting. Flash! You are crawling. Flash! It’s Christmastime already?
It’s a joyous holiday, your very first Christmas, just another in the infinite and awesome list of firsts that I have tried diligently to capture for you here, but really I have only scratched the very surface. The holidays come and go in a blink and suddenly it is upon us. January.
A new year and the final month of your first year. It’s a time I have been anticipating anxiously for months and suddenly it is upon us. Flash. I am leaving you behind at the place that will become your new home during the week. I walk out of that daycare for the first time without you and am so overcome with pride at how easy you have made it, so overcome with sadness about how much I will miss you, so overcome. I have to sit in the lobby for several minutes just gathering myself and wondering – where do I go now? What do I do without you?
Imagine? One year. In one year I am lost when you’re not by my side.
Flash! It’s today. And you are the most beautiful little person I have ever seen. All dressed up in your party clothes I see you in a new light. My baby, my tiny little bundle of feet and fingers and wrinkled parts has become this sweet, thoughtful, funny, loving, curious, most amazing little girl. One part daddy, one part mommy, but so many parts just you.
Happy birthday Anabella. How lucky we are that this is just one - another incredible first - of so many more yet to come.
I love you,