05 March 2011


Adriana Burkhart Jennifer Barko
Big A,


You are thirteen; more improbable than this is the fact that I have a child that is thirteen; these are not the same thing although it may seem as though they are.

I say it so often, but I have to say it again: I have no idea where the time has gone. I now know firsthand the secret told in the glances of my grandparents and parents, my aunts and uncles: that there is no answer, that they stood there, too, in wonder of where time went, trying to sort out how the people before them looked so different than the people within them.

It's hard, I know, Big A. I must tell you I thought it would be so much easier. I thought that when Thirteen arrived that we would be the best of friends and would meld into one another, simple, curved shapes that were difficult to tell from the other. It isn't that, and that truth is hard. It's all sharp edges and muscles tightened from walking on tiptoes throughout our lives right now.

It's hard to be your mom when I want to be your friend...I am told that the friendship will come in later years, when the innocence and bravado of youth wears a little and shadows begin to fall on the knowledge of all that you thought that you knew. I cannot wait for that time, and yet, if I could shield you from that time, I would as well.

When I tell you that your entire life is before you and that each moment matters, it is because I ignored those exact words of those before me and I look back on that oldest truth with a mix of curiosity and regret--the truth that youth is wasted on the young.

If I were gone tomorrow, I would want you to know how very much I love you. How despite the tension now, that the moment each morning when I see your sleepy face, that each time I am overcome with how much I love you.

I would want to tell you to dive for every ball. To go for it, whatever it is, with all that there is within you. To not wait until you think it will be safe--safety is overrated and not as secure as you would believe. I would want you to know that I never regretted trying and not succeeding, but that I always regretted not trying.

I would want you to know that we really are all just hanging by a thread and that that thread is interwoven among mankind; all of us. That a second, even a part of a second, can make all the difference in the world. That the smallest act can have the most significant impact. That life as you know it could be life as you knew it within the blink of an eye. I would tell you to be the one to let go last when hugging someone.

Punctuation does matter and no matter what, there are two spaces after a period. Floss then brush. Think then speak. Guard the plate with two strikes and if it's close, you better be swinging. Make your free-throws.

Duke and The Yankees are of the same evil empire. Cloud-watching is an art. Be kind. Be true.

You are a love letter written across my soul, sweet girl, with words that I cannot express or understand, but know just the same.

Happy Thirteen, Big A.

Your adoring mother