less hazy

May 27, 2014

Dear Hazel,

Anticipation and nostalgia overwhelm me as I write this letter. Not only will you graduate from high school in the next couple of days, but also you will move four hundred miles from home to become a college freshman. That’s the anticipation part; it acknowledges you, your accomplishments, your aspirations, and your successes, and I am so happy for and proud of you.

The nostalgia comes from me, and you have been so patient as I look backward and forward at the same time. I have always sensed your strength of character, your desire to experience the world firsthand and partake in every opportunity. Some of your first words, “No, me hazy,” express this unique determination, and I have tried to accommodate and encourage it your whole life. From squeezing patient cats to holding the leashes of neighbors’ dogs to hypnotizing chickens in petting zoos to riding horses of all sizes, your enthusiastic and boundless love for animals and their well being has been constant and sincere.

Similarly, my love for you is limitless. Your arrival on June 16, 1996 at 1:28am was the best thing that ever happened to me. Early in your life, you taught me about the importance of connecting with other people. Only after you were born did I meet and talk with longstanding neighbors. You and I spent many hours visiting and walking with no destination, and your interest in every leaf, rock, and bug both enervated and impressed me. You taught me patience, tolerance, and unconditional love, and your unwavering presence in each moment affected my engagement in and understanding of the life we shared.

This past year has been one of growth (on your part) and adjustment (on mine). The many hours and miles we spent together while I drove you to school, to lessons, and to other commitments have become bittersweet memories of the past. While I encourage, nurture, and support your independence, I miss that uninterrupted time with you. But I see the compassionate, intelligent, and responsible young woman you have become, and I am heartened.