It has been just over a year since you came into the world. Even though you had to leave just as quickly, you've managed to stay with me. And, I am grateful.
When you were just a thought, a mere idea--your dad began writing you a letter in a journal I'd given him. He never showed it to me, but perhaps you've now seen it yourself. Or, maybe he has read it to you...I hope so. He and I haven't spoken since he left our world last year. That was about 12 days before you left, too. Twenty-four days after that, I arrived home in Atlanta to find arrows shot into our house. A message. Humans are often crude, Little One. As crude as they are redundant.
Primitives will try to kill what they otherwise cannot understand. Think Neanderthals with clubs. In the absence of wit, there can be no clever subtlety, only brutishness. That's why an education is more than just a piece of paper or collection of required classes. Class isn't just for the classroom. Neither is true learning.
Months of intimidation tactics followed the arrows; by July 2015, it became apparent my safety was in jeopardy. I had to leave the house that was our home. It was a beautiful place full of love, laughter, peace, and joy. As long as it stood, it was a beacon of light, a symbol of hope. In order to completely destroy that light and hope, our home was taken apart piece by piece until it no longer existed.
But, like love, and the light it brings, our home can never really be destroyed. Because our home was more than just a house or a carefully curated collection of things. Our home was us. Even though you did not survive, the idea of you did. As did the idea of our family. And ideas can never be destroyed, my Emma-Fair. You are now as immortal as your mother. Ironically, you are perhaps even more powerful today than if you had lived long enough to have taken your first breath. Just as the idea of me lingers in that place more powerfully now than had I been left alone to grieve in peace.
The physical world is a world of opposites. A sad lesson is understanding that there will always be people in it who want to destroy your happiness, just because you have it and they don't. Instead of making their own, the green-eyed steep themselves in misery. Destroying another's happiness is the only way such people feel good about themselves. But part of loving yourself, Little One, is learning to let go of toxicity. People who choose negatives over positives have very little self-worth, and so, are incapable of giving any to you. The only thing you should put before them is pity, never diamonds, like you, Baby Girl...or pearls, like me.
Though your dad is still accountable for his part, our light, love and compassion helps us to forgive, and yes, even forget. We are not like other people, Miss Emma. Our kind have wings. We fly above the storms in Heaven, and while on Earth, we walk between the rain drops. Not everyone can....
Your dad is a good man, or I would not have picked him. Neither would you, I suppose. Unlike us, Dad never had anyone on his side before. When he did finally find us, his old life found him, too, pulling him backwards. Yet there is always hope, my Emma-Fair. I pray for him to heal. Perhaps then, like an arrow being held taut in a bow, when your dad is finally free, he won't just fly...he'll soar
You would be quite proud of me, Little One. I have done much since you came and went, including going through the grieving process. I have had some trouble tackling certain tasks connected to being forced out of our home, and having to leave my job, but others have come more easily. You are remembered, of course, every single day. And your story will be known by thousands of people now. You will also help to heal whole communities, as I imagined you'd do had you been given the chance to live this time around. Maybe one day, I can open another door....
I do not shine the same way I used to, my Emma-Fair. But I grow a little stronger every day. I know if you were here, I would be stronger still. And I try, Little One. As if you were here with me now. But you aren't, and I miss what I saw in our future, even if it never happened. You would have been between seven and eight months old today, depending on when you actually decided to arrive. You would have already gone on your first Cape Cod vacation. You would have already met the great Ocean. You would have gone apple picking, pumpkin picking, and dressed up for your first Halloween.
So many firsts! I can practically see the flames reflected in your twinkling blue eyes while gazing at the blaze of Chanukah light on the last night of a holiday that commemorates our people's triumph over oppression and tyranny, despite terrible destruction. We let light into the world every year to remember the miracle of a light that can never be extinguished, no matter how much darkness surrounds it. That is you. My little miracle. It's me, too.
Did you know your dad was interested in becoming part of that light? Not because I said so or even made the suggestion; he was always free to do as he pleased--which is obvious, I suppose, given our current circumstances. Still, he admired our people and how our culture teaches self-responsibility and light. He was very proud you were going to be born with that light.
You are of an ancient cultural heritage, the second oldest philosophy on Planet Earth, actually. Your ancestors have made the most meaningful contributions to humanity beyond any other of our limited size...but not reach. Because light can always be seen and felt, no matter how great the distance. Like the stars that shine in the night sky. Our people are tough, smart, strong, and beautiful. So, every negative thrown at us only becomes a springboard for positive action. You would have been no different.
By now, you'd be scooting yourself to furniture to exercise your legs. You would not be crawling much though. I never really crawled either. Even have an early memory of realizing that I could stand, so why do anything else; I was perhaps nine months old. Your big brother did the same thing at the same age. Given those powerful kicks of yours, I'd guess your progress would have matched ours. My children stand tall. Literally, in your brother's case. Undoubtedly, in yours, too.
You would be pulling yourself up by now, standing independently, if not with a wobble once in a while; that's the way it is in life as well. In another month or so, you'd be talking, too. Just like I did. Just like your big brother. By Valentine's Day, you'd be telling me your preferences for your meals. By St. Patrick's Day, you'd tell me what dress you wanted to wear for your first birthday, the kind of cake you'd enjoy, and even the gift you wanted. Your big brother did. By default, he's been telling me what to do for more than 25 years now. You would have had him wrapped around your little finger; I would have greatly enjoyed watching you tell him what to do for the next 25.
My children are empowered, kind, fierce, loving, and highly intelligent creatures who have adventurous spirits. My children are also confident in their decisions. Loyal to themselves and others. I would have delighted in seeing how those traits manifested in you, my Emma-Fair. I already got a preview though, didn't I??? And, I couldn't be more proud.
The Christmas tree went up two weeks ago. I can only imagine your squeals of delight at seeing your first tree brimming with ornaments of all shapes and sizes, strewn with festive ribbons, as it lights up the room. And, the joy on your tiny face at opening your first gifts after tasting my home made chocolate croissants...French Guittard chocolate remnants still smeared on your cheek because you wouldn't let me wipe it all off before insisting on discovering what Santa had put under the tree with EMMA on a silvery tag. A Kodak moment if ever there was one.
Sometimes at night, I wake thinking I hear you crying in the next room. It is a dream. A good one. I hope it means someday, that dream will be real. I'll also wake up thinking you're lying next to me after falling asleep in my big bed during a late night feeding. Perhaps that, too, is a future echo, letting me know not to give up. That's what your dad said about a month or so before your spark sparked; it seemed everywhere I went, the name #Emma appeared. He told me those synchronicities meant you'd be coming in the future. And he was right. I miss that, his calming rhythm. He saw the world in magical ways. Which makes all that's happened even harder for me to understand, let alone try to explain. Even a year later....
Next month, there are many new beginnings that will come to fruition later in 2016 and beyond, Baby Girl. Most have been inspired by you. All will help others to live better lives by not only creating jobs, but making existing jobs more secure while returning almost 70% of monies spent back to the community. And, giving back nearly a quarter of a million dollars to those who need it most in every city and town we visit for #EMMA Tours. Your tours. You'd have grown up amongst the stars, Emma-Fair. Emmy-winners would have fawned over you...and it is my sincere hope to still see that one day:
You, laughing wildly as Uncle Curtis twirls you around in what would be your customary dance, whispering to you as he does, "You have angel's wings, Emma-Fair...I know, I played one on TV," to which you would smile that smile you inherited from me--the one that can melt the polar ice caps. Other times, I'd happily hear you backstage singing the "Countries of the World" song with Uncle Rob--you doing your best impression of Yakko Warner, a talent you'd have inherited from your dad. He was quite good with voices; I particularly enjoyed his rendition of characters from South Park and Family Guy. Never looked at popsicles the same way again....
You came into the world the day before your big brother was born. You both were greeted by the stars falling from Heaven: The Geminid meteor showers. You were also both born under Sagittarius, a fire sign, like me. If you had waited your full term, doctors said you might have been a bull. But I saw a Ram, and think you would have come earlier than expected, like your brother, to be born under Aries--another fire sign. You would have entered this world with the Lyrids, one of the oldest meteor showers known to humanity. They are named for Orpheus's lyre, made for him by the swift-footed god, Hermes.
Orpheus was a beautiful, talented youth. He had fallen in love with a nymph named Eurydice. And she loved him, too. Very much. But Eurydice was taken from Orpheus when the two were targeted by those jealous of their love. Though the pair were now worlds apart, Orpheus, armed with his lyre, braved the dangers of Hell using his charm to disarm any evil that confronted him. Orpheus even managed to charm the devil himself! But sadly, Orpheus was all-too human and suffered insecurities; we all do, Emma. No one is immune. Indulging in your humanity is never a mistake. The mistake is giving up on yourself when you do.
Though Orpheus was happily reunited with the love of his life, he let others manipulate him into feeling fear and doubt, turning his loyalty into betrayal before he even knew what was happening. Instead of living in the present, Orpheus fell prey to his past; he was afraid that if he did not look back, he might miss something. The irony is, of course, that the past cannot be changed. We may only ever change ourselves in the present for a better future. Orpheus ended up missing everything, including his love, but not because he had doubts. Orpheus lost what was most precious to him because he gave up. As a result, Orpheus suffered a very lonely fate indeed, despite his many charms. And, an unending supply of offers from women who wanted him. But no matter how beautiful or rich or different a woman was, she never matched Orpheus's Eurydice.
I never thought much about how the stars affect who we are until two years ago. But only a fire sign, and only an Aries to boot, would be fiery enough to decide at such a young age that you were not ready. I truly believe that--that you knew the time wasn't right. You knew many things weren't right. I would have protected you as I did your brother had you chosen to stay. You knew that, too. But you may have also known something I could only guess at: The Future.
It wasn't going to be pretty, was it? I really had no clue about what I'd gotten myself into. Even if I had, you knew I'd have stayed the course. Because the only way to turn things around is from the inside out. All it takes is a little confidence, a little courage, and a lot of time. I can practically hear your dad teasing me with, "Is that all it takes? If you say so...."
The mind gives up long before it has to--no matter who we are. I am still your mother. Always your mother. And will always do what I think would make you proud to be my daughter.
I hike almost every day now, weather permitting. If you were here, you'd have come with me in a carry pack on my chest. And when you outgrew that, on my back. And when you outgrew that...in one of those four-wheel-drive strollers. And after that??? You'd be braving the hill side in the meadow yourself. You'd watch the stag from the tall grass. You'd look at the fox hole and see the babies emerge in spring. You'd see the Cardinal-nest in the hidden thorn bush and watch gray bits of fluff learn to fly, turning shades of scarlet as they grew. You would meet my Red Tail friend, who always flies to the South when she sees me. And the Peregrine! Her cunning flight and smaller size make her an excellent hunter. The other day, a Golden Eagle unexpectedly launched out of the meadow as I carefully descended the hill-side. Big, broad wings of golden brown feathers were mere feet away as he caught the wind. So close, I felt the air from his wings brush against my face.
I would teach you how to listen to the wind, and, the trees, my Emma-Fair; they both have secrets to share. Only those who know how to listen may learn. You would have been one of the few who can.
I would teach you how to be still when the starlings flew overhead, and how the sound of all those wings flapping at once is just like the sound of an Angel. We would listen for the particular hoot of the owl in the old oak tree at dusk. We would hear the crackle of leaves beneath the tiny feet of squirrels scampering between trees. As we walk amongst the tall grasses, I would show you the hidden doorways of the voles and moles and mice who live there.
Above all, you'd learn how to give back to Nature by doing things like picking up garbage left behind by humans who don't have our magic. You'd bring an apple for the stag, and leave a trail of sunflower seeds for all your new friends to enjoy. Your curled locks would bounce along with you, glinting gold in the sunlight as your laughter echoed off the trees. The same trees who hold court for you, my Emma-Fair, standing like tall guardians with outstretched arms, inviting you to play in their shade.
We would dance amongst the hay bails sitting lazily along the edge of the woods and play hide-and-seek. We'd finish covering the branch tee-pees with straw so we'd have our own forts in winter, a place we could stay warm while watching the snow gently fall, where we could wait while collecting it in a big bowl before adding sugar and milk and eating our own "ice cream."
How I would have loved teaching you all that I know, my Emma-Fair, and, learning all you would teach me, too. How I would have loved it. How I would have loved you.
I wonder if your dad thinks of you like I do. I wonder if he imagines what it would have been like having your tiny hand curl around his index finger. He was a massive man, his hands twice the size of mine. But his soul was gentle, sad and kind. The man I knew would have cared enough to think of you in such ways. That's the man I pray for, whether or not he prays or thinks or wonders about us. And, he does. I feel it.
When you love yourself unconditionally, you can give that same love to others, my Emma-Fair. The biggest illusion of all is believing love is something you receive. Real love is given with no expectations, no rules, no limits. It just exists. Outside of ego. Outside of desire. Those who force love are doomed to never really have it. Such individuals do not have a lover so much as a glorified prisoner. And all captives, whether behind bars or not, inevitably develop something called Stockholm Syndrome; that means they feel love for their captors--but by default, not by choice. It's what psychologists refer to as a defense mechanism or coping strategy. Humans will do almost anything to survive. Even believe their own lies.
One of the saddest things I've seen in my time here on Earth is when a prisoner of false love becomes free, yet suffers such severe damage from the toxicity in the former relationship, that he is institutionalized. Institutionalized is a fancy word for a former prisoner deliberately sabotaging their freedom in order to return to captivity. Like I said, it's one of the saddest things on the planet.
There's no real secret to finding real love; if you love yourself, others will love you, too. Good enough is never enough. When aligned properly, two people can both give and receive real love in an infinite loop of peace, joy and happiness. That's the kind of love that transcends time and space...even physical existence. It goes beyond a single lifetime, too. Because it's the source of everything in the Universe. You come from that source, Emma....
Being broken is not the same as coming apart. It just means you're stronger than the average human. It does not mean you are invulnerable though; you will long for the same real love you have the capacity to give. You will look for it in even the most unlikely of places--as limitless as you are. You will find it, too. When you do, my brilliant girl, see that you do not find yourself trapped in Hell because of an insecure Orpheus. It's a hard lesson. One we must learn over and over again until it finally sticks. That's a part of our soul-journey. Our karma.
Karma, or in our language, tikun, is not a punishment. It's more like a repair. Negativity always rises to the surface, not to prevent us from moving forward, but to give us opportunity to become empowered by healing old wounds, clearing out any negativity we have collected during our existence. It is natural to be scared when faced with the things we fear most, like abandonment. I am always afraid, Miss Emma. But I don't let fear stop me anymore. I used to. It took me years to understand that nothing is more important than love and joy and peace and happiness. Nothing. Not even God.
No one can see or hear God, but many claim to speak for Him anyway. If there is such an entity, a watchmaker, as it were, that "God" put us here to do those very things. We know this by virtue of having the capacity to feel them. And when you feel love, peace, happiness, and joy, it is a true miracle. By denying ourselves the miracle of love, we deny ourselves the miracles of joy and peace and happiness, too. THAT is denying God. So when a minister, preacher, priest, rabbi, or anyone else with an opinion, tells you one day that you are not living by God's laws when you choose to pursue real love--because that pursuit is somehow perceived as "wrong"--you politely tell them your momma said to go fuck themselves. Just like that.
No one can live your life for you. Because no one can hear your soul-song but you. So listen to yourself. No one else. If you listen hard enough, your soul will tell you what's right. If I'm your mother again in the future, I'm sure I'll tell you what's right, too. Even your momma can't live your life for you though. You're going to have to learn to listen to yourself and be confident when you hear your heart speak. It will never be easy. Nothing worthwhile is. But take a chance by giving love a chance anyway. Your life will be better for it, no matter what happens.
Destiny is a choice, my daughter. Fate is something we wait for and suffer through. Learn the lesson Orpheus's tragedy teaches: If Orpheus saved his lover once, the odds were in his favor for a second success. How? He could have simply used his charm on other gods, who would have then acted on his behalf to negotiate his lover's release. The power was always in his hands. Instead of using it though, Orpheus remained a perpetual victim by letting another steal his happiness. Why would anyone do that, you may ask....
In truth, Orpheus's ultimate defeat was designed by him to punish himself for his initial betrayal...but by punishing himself, he relegated his lover to rot in the depths of Hell, thereby punishing her, too. Given all that happened, no matter how much he longed for Eurydice, Orpheus was simply too beaten to have the wherewithal to fight. His fear paralyzed him. He could no longer trust himself. And the more time that passed, the more his doubts grew. That is the difference between a reactive life and a proactive one, my Emma-Fair.
Reactive people take the hand they're given; it seems easier than choosing your own cards. That's the worst lie we can tell ourselves though. Waiting for things to change, to drag you forward, is on par with a banana peel in the bottom of a garbage can wishing it were whole and back on its tree. When a rare opportunity presents itself, you'll have become so accustomed to being a discarded banana peel, that you may not even be able to see that opportunity. Even if you do see it, you won't be able to put in the effort necessary to truly seize it, and be the change you wish to see in your own world. Complacency is a curse. People stay still because they fear change. But impermanence is an integral part of the physical world.
Proactive movement acknowledges impermanence and promotes intelligence through increased flexibility, resourcefulness, creativity, and imagination. All traits common to survivors. As well as courage. Having courage does not mean you are not scared, Emma. In fact, it means you are, but do what you must anyway, no matter what. Every day that Orpheus let go by without attempting to reclaim his joy, he only fell deeper into despair, and even further away from the only woman he truly loved.
Freedom has a cost, my Emma-Fair. You must take responsibility for yourself in order to claim it. Self-responsibility is where light comes from. Everything else is darkness. When you embrace your light, you cannot be a victim, even when victimized. It means you stand up when everyone else is busy looking for a chair. That is what I am doing now. It is very scary, Little One. But in the end, it is worth it. Because, in the end, it led me to you. And, guess what??? It will again.
Goodbye for now, my Emma-Fair...Miss Emma-Science! One year from now, I will publish another letter to you. In the meantime, you are always with me. And I, with you.
I love you, Emma....