When you were small and fragile, but still unblemished, before the surgeons had begun their work that would save your life but leave you scarred, your father sat beside your tiny hospital crib, to talk to you alone.
On that night, the last night we knew for sure we would have you, the bravest man I know told you this:
That we loved you, and we wanted you to fight as hard as you could. But if it was too hard, if it hurt too much, it was ok to let go. We would understand.
And while I understood and admired your father’s words, I could say no such thing.
I wanted you to fight until you had no fight left. I wanted you and all the dreams I had for you to stay alive. And if they were going to be torn from my heart, I wanted us all to go down swinging.
Now, you are two days away from finishing middle school, making decisions about magnet schools and auditions and so many choices. Facing down more battles that I know have you worried and scared.
I wish I was as brave and gentle as your dad was that night 14 years ago. I wish I could tell you that if it gets too hard, and it hurts too much, it’s ok to let go. But I can’t.
Of course no matter what you choose to do, I love you and am proud of you. But in the pursuit of your dreams, I want you to keep fighting. I want you to claim all the talents you’ve been given. I don’t want you to surrender those gifts to fear or uncertainty.
We are surrounded by a world that tries to shame us into playing it small. But you were not created for that.
You were the child who not only wouldn’t sit in the time-out chair, you threw it at me when I told you to sit down. You are the girl who stands on chairs and sings herself happy birthday if the waiters won’t do it. You are the woman destined for amazing things.
And if you are going to fall, I want you to go down swinging.