Today you are four, and I cannot get my mind around that. If you are four then that means you've been with us for less than two and a half years; if you are four it means it was barely more than two years ago that Mom and Dad went out for a night and so I rocked you to sleep and you held my finger in your little baby hand and I thought, You are holding my heart.
You are still holding it. I do not think I knew how deeply I could love another human being until I met you. I love your godfather very much, but it is different somehow. We can define and quantify it, to an extent. We can set boundaries on how far we let it go.
There were never any boundaries possible for loving you. There are no words to describe it, and I am a writer so I know words.
All I can give you is a story, because I am a writer.
When you are a very little bit older I will take you to the St. Jude chapel at our church, and I will put a dollar in the box (I will probably let you slide it through the slot, because that is fun), and we will each light a candle and I will whisper to you that I lit a thousand candles for you, here in front of St. Jude. Because I was a teenager with an impossible prayer, and when you are a teenager you do immoderate things (immoderate things involving fire is a bonus) and when you have an impossible prayer you go to St. Jude.
I didn't know about you, when I spent endless hours and most of my papergirl income praying and lighting candles. Most of the time I was praying, you were already alive, you just weren't my sister yet.
Except you were always my sister. Since the beginning of time you were my sister, and God prepared my heart ahead of time for you, so that when you came with no promises of staying I would be able to love you more deeply than I ever loved anyone else.
You stayed, and one day when you were three we went to the courthouse and then the law recognized what we always knew: That you were always meant to be ours, and we were always meant to be yours. The judge said then what a good thing it was for you to be with us; he remarked on how much you needed us.
He had no idea that he was only telling half the story, or perhaps less than half. He did not know what a good thing it was for us to have you, or how very much we needed you.
I know that half of the story, and I am still in awe of the grace that you are. I don't think I will ever stop thanking God that he answered a teenager's impossible prayer.
I love you.
Photo taken by my mom, December of 2009