I always write a birthday letter to you on your birthdays, but I figured for this milestone that has just passed that I would write a letter to you following my birthday.
40 is different; an age that I'm sure feels a million miles away from your beautiful faces; I hope it always does. There are things I want to tell you, sitting here at 40, realizing how time does really does pass and immortality begins to wash away as the moments that add up to a lifetime march across the decades.
First, you are my entire world. It's crazy that I know that an entire galaxy exists around me, yet you hold it all within your hands. I hope that you never love anyone this much, but I hope that you are always this loved. I know that if you have children, you will understand what I mean when I say this--unless you do, don't try to dissect what I've said--the words will never make sense to you.
I want you to know that it's OK to take chances. And fail. And get back up and try again. Ignore what everyone else says and listen to what you hear within you; follow that course with all that you have, no matter where it takes you. Just always get back up again. It's with the falling that we learn to rise.
I beg of you your patience with me as you grow. My direction is, sadly, but truly, what most well-meaning parents direction is made of--the realization of how truly each moment matters; how the smallest of actions can do or undo almost anything--an entire life can hinge on the tiniest of circumstances. I would urge you to do it, whatever it is that you fear, whether that means jumping from an airplane or reaching out for a hand in front of you, speaking in a moment that won't ever come again or simply allowing yourself to be loved.
Whatever it is you choose to do, do it with wild abandon. Be the scrappiest player on the court, be able to hold intellectual conversations and keep an open mind, but be able to hold your ground when you know from the deepest parts within that they are right. Laugh--loudly, cry when you need to and always understand that not everyone can do those things at the same time. Study the times when you feel the very happiest and know what it is that made you feel that way; don't let go of those things.
It's not easy to sometimes hear the loudest of sounds around us; sometimes you have to listen from within. It's an acquired trait and I've seen it in both of you; please, wherever you go, whatever you do, do not forget that compassion and pass it onto your children should you choose to have them; it would be the greatest trait possible to pass on.
Hug more. Hate less. Your energy is your energy--only let you decide how you use it, but do know that you only have a certain amount and you can use it positively or negatively, I pray that you choose positively.
Books! Don't forget books. I hope that you always let the magic pull you in. You cannot recall how religiously I read to you from infancy, but I know that you've both realized the magic and worlds that are within them.
It's alright to be an introvert. It doesn't mean being anti-social, but it means that you are alright on your own--and that is the thing that I want you both to be, more than anything--good with being with just you. Whether that means always having someplace or something for just you, or whether that means simply choosing to never anchor yourself to someone or something, I want you to know that it's OK.
Baseball. I want you to remember baseball, but I want you to be able to watch it without crying when you recall all of the Detroit Tiger games that we attended. It's tricky; I haven't figured it out yet. I can tell you that one of the strongest dreams that I had while I was fighting in the hospital was me riding in a pick-up truck with my Grandpa, Ernie Harwell was on the radio.
It's why I couldn't watch the Tigers the year after he was gone. It's why I cry still, three years after he's been gone, when the Tigers are on. It's why I keep reminding you when we go to the games to shut your eyes and listen; study the field; stop; to remember the moment. Because those are the moments that you will realize at 40 that were the best moments of your lives. You won't know that until time passes and you will wish that you slowed down to remember.
I wish for you every happiness, but enough sorrow to understand that there are those that know nothing but that. I wish for you enough challenges along the way to make you stronger; smarter; your very best and enough knowledge gained from those challenges to make you happy; so very happy that you never feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, but realize that there are those that feel only that and a heart wide enough and bright enough and big enough to help them.
Realize that there is not enough good you can do in the world.
Take off your coat when you see someone without one on the street of a city that I hope you roam and give it to them. Open doors for everyone, with a smile. Pay the toll for the car behind you when you can. It will come back to you; I promise it will; sometimes when you least expect it and most need it.
Realize that beauty lies within almost everything; sometimes you have to look for it, sometimes you just feel it. Make sure that you, too, sleep with your daughters, should you have them, under the stars on a warm summer night on a trampoline. Feel free to watch them as they sleep under the very galaxy that they hold within their hands.
Do not listen to those that tell you that you can hold your child too much, let them sleep with you too much or love them too much, for time passes quickly and before you know it they may stand taller than you and you will wonder where the time has gone, and no matter how much you held them, you will find yourself wishing that you'd held them more.
I love you both so very much.
I love you more than love.
Your most willing servant, always,