I can’t find the word. I think it’s respect. It might be admiration. Inspiration? It could be them all. My determination to phrase this exactly right is why I don’t ever seem to explain this to you properly. You smile, you get coy, you shift your gaze away and look very sad indeed when I try. I don’t want to make you sad. I want to tell you how perfect you are. Will you let me tell you how perfect you are?
Oh Buddha, what you’ve been through. You’ve been a beautiful baby ladybird, bright and colourful and fascinating and almost ready to fly. A delight, a day-brightener, a smile warmer than the patch of light by an open door. And then you’ve been taken between thumb and forefinger at whimsy, examined, prodded half-heartedly, squeezed tight. Squashed. Left for dead. My treasured sunshine trampled on.
All of those times I sat quiet, frozen, as it happened, I wanted to explain that this isn’t about you. I look to you for ways to be kinder. Your tolerance, the way you accept everyone – and I mean everyone – for exactly what they are. The way you accept me. You accept that speech is my second language and that it’s the best I have. You’re everything. But my tongue stuck in my throat as the nightmare unfolded, bound to my lips by memories of my own, and it means I failed you. I know you understand that I was there, that I am there, but I’m sorry I haven’t been better at it. I’m crippled by seeing this happen to you. Anger renders me impotent.
You’ve put one foot in front of the other, day on day on day, thud, thud, thud. Onwards. Slowly. Deliberately. Our phoenix. Because it’s not just me. We’ve all marvelled at your grace, the blatant self-respect you’ve got for yourself. A lesser woman would’ve crumbled, and that would have been fine. Pressing pause is okay too. Whatever you need. Whatever you want. It seems like you want to heal the “right” way. From a place of love, even after it broke your heart.
It makes my breath stop short in my chest.
Baby girl, this is your making. You don’t need me to tell you that reaching far, deep down inside of yourself, pulling out the part only true devastation forces us to seek, means that whatever happens from here on out you’re forever changed. It’s not what happened that transforms, it’s how we deal with it. Your humour, the knowledge you have of yourself, your roar: I don’t think you comprehend that it’s extraordinary. You’re a magnet for good energy because of the charm you’re determined to hold on to. I don’t presume it’s effortless. I know it’s deliberate. Deliberate, unrelenting optimism that shines bright in even the darkest corners of this icky, head-fuck of a mess. No part unexplored. Honouring the bits that were good. And it was, right up until it wasn’t.
Isn’t that always the way?
You are so valued. The glue that binds our makeshift family together, the jigsaw piece that knows when to turn up the music loud with the lights off and the dance moves on, even just for those three minutes. Feeding us with cake you fancied experimenting with and questions about how we really are. Easy company. Never demanding, expecting or entitled. Happy to be happy. You’ve the roundest, fullest life of us all because you live and breathe wholeness. You’re in it for the entire journey, not just for where we’ll park the car.
You’re special. A force. Magnificent. Fools will make us feel like less, but please hear me when I stand here, ashamed that I can’t hold your hand and look into your eyes when I say fucking brava, sweet child. Brava from us all who are spurred on by your spirit. Use us for your next step, ask us to put you on that plane. Your house was knocked to the ground by a wind too short-sighted to recognise it’s mistake, but you’ve got an army stood by with every tool from the shed just waiting to hammer nails into the roof of your future.
So. Even when the words don’t come out loud, in the moment, when they should, the meaning of my silence will never, ever, change. You are loved.