Happy Birthday, Madison

I wanted it to be perfect. As if writing it would somehow right all the wrongs. I wanted it to be meaningful. Saying all the things I wish I had said, but didn’t. As if somehow that would erase all the things I said instead -the things I wish I wouldn’t have said. I wanted it to be deep. Inspiring. Encouraging. All the things that I never have been. I wanted it to be real. And so I waited. I held off as long as possible. I delayed the thoughts, the words, the everything -as if somehow…that would change it all. Slow the world down and give me some time to process just what is happening.

But as anyone would tell you -life keeps plucking along. Day in and day out, and stalling did nothing to help me.

Instead it made things worse. Because instead of going with my first instincts, my first words, my first reactions – I mulled over them so long, that suddenly they made no sense. The words lost all meaning -as they do, and I was left with nothing. So I delayed it even more. Until there was no more delaying to be had.

Thing is, this is going to be the last thing that I write to you. Publicly, at least. You are 18. Your stories are no longer tied to anyone but yourself. You are embarking on your own adventures, you own life, your own path. I would be kidding myself by saying that you are just now starting this journey -because to be completely honest -you have been on this path forever. You have always had your own way, your own style, your own ideas. It’s what makes you, you. But I feel now is the time to file away all the old memories, sit back and watch.

Watch you spread your wings and take flight into this completely unknown journey that only you know about. This journey that you have been waiting for. This moment that you have LIVED for. You. Are officially an adult.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a burst of pride somewhere deep down inside. That kind of feeling that starts low, and bubbles to the top to the point where you can’t help it -you have to smile. You have to laugh. You have to embrace it all. The feeling of pride is not something I feel much. But today…I felt it. The pride that doesn’t rightfully belong to me, but is nestled in deep.

So I will say what I don’t say much. What I should have said more. What I hope you already know: I am proud of you girl. I have always been proud you. Regardless of the choices you have made, the steps you have taken, the paths you have chosen -pride is the one word that comes to mind when I think of you. How you have handled yourself. How you have handled others. How you have handled life.

I know that if I feel this much pride? That your parents -have 10x the amount.

You have worked hard. Loved harder, and given everything you have. You have picked yourself up, dusted the dirt off and carried on. Countless times. You have shown the world what it means to embrace a sour hand. But you have never once been bitter about it. You have always managed to turn the negatives into something positive. Never once giving up on your dreams, never once listening to the voices that said you can’t. You have learned to surround yourself with those who will encourage you -and in turn, you encourage them.

I hope that one day, when you look back -you won’t just see the hard times, harsh words, and unspoken things. I hope you know that deep down -I am proud of who you were, who you are and who you are becoming…and despite rarely, if ever saying it -I hope you really do know how much I love you.

Happy birthday kid -you made it.

– Your Uncle

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