August 9, 2020
HAPPY 17th BIRTHDAY my girl!
This is not the birthday we planned, but it will be amazing in its own way.
These last few months have been a lesson for the world, that plans are sometimes abruptly interrupted and that life is often unfair. This is not news to us. We’ve been replaying that lesson together for many years; cheering each other on, and holding each other up through surgeries, recoveries, setbacks and all the things that come with our diagnoses.
The difference this year was that everyone else was at it alongside us.
I know you well Meg, but I have learned even more about you these last few months and I could not be prouder of you.
You tend to see the parts where you struggle. Sometimes it weighs you down. I see the parts where you succeed. I see the parts where the struggle is productive and you grow. That’s why we’ll always be good together.
There is no denying that there were times this year where frustration, sadness, isolation and loneliness tried to win. But, as I’ve said to you so many times before, you have a 100% success rate when it comes to overcoming obstacles, and this year proved no different.
You took the “remote learning” for what it had to offer. You missed the classes that had been engaging you and challenging your brain, but you never gave up. You spent the end of your Junior year as you did the beginning, finishing with the same perfect report card while doing a whole lot of “self-teaching.”
Swimming was wiped out in March just days before a meet that was to be your comeback. You were trained. You were ready. It was cancelled.
You mourned a few days. You worried about how to keep in shape. Your body had never allowed you to do much land training. You tried video after video. You addressed your own frustrations. You found a way. Now, when I see you hitting a heavy bag probably in the best overall strength of your life, I can’t help but smile. When I see photos of an 8 mile hike, when a year ago walking .5 was too much, my heart sings. You push your body to always be better. You don’t give up. You inspire me.
You had gotten us to agree to that tattoo months earlier – but you couldn’t be out of the water the required time after it was done. Then suddenly swim practice was no longer. So, you did it. With our blessing you took back a little of your body that day. You took back some control. You started to heal your soul a little more from so much trauma.
Without access to standardized exams, without the ability to tour campuses, without your college office, you knew you had to take matters into your own hands. Focused on your desire to be a Physician’s Assistant you carefully researched Universities. You created a list. You reached out to swim coaches. You set up your own calls. You narrowed things down. You called again. You got connected to admissions offices. You are well on your way to completing applications. You could have sat back and whined. You could have waited. You refuse to let anything stand in the way of your goals and dreams. When college is ready for you in the fall of 2021 you will be well-prepared.
You had a birthday vacation to Disney with your very best friend planned to the day. You were so grateful and so excited to experience your happy place with a great deal of independence, and super fun company too. We watched the numbers. We stalled. We watched some more. Then finally I had to pull the plug. Your birthday is one of my favorite days. It was hard to hand you disappointment like that. You took your time to process and picked your head up again. There will always be 2021…. The magic will still await.
Faced with the unusual situation of being local on your birthday you talked through all the feelings. You wanted to do something to make joy out of disappointment. You decided you were going to use your day to make others happy. You chose Ronald McDonald House, as you remember vividly the treatment you received when we spent a night in 2014 before your thyroid surgery. With a little help from Aunt Lisa, you were connected to the CEO of the RMDH New Hyde Park. I listened as you spoke to him and was just full of pride at your maturity and ability to handle yourself. By the time you finished he was as excited as you were.
You spent hours generating a digital flyer. You texted and posted and shared. You set up a contactless donation option for items on our front porch. Signs were made. People started to reach out.
When people asked what you wanted for your birthday, you sent the flyer.
That level of selflessness causes parents hearts to actually burst with pride.
There are many things this year is not. Many things you wished it was. You are starting your Senior Year of High School in very uncertain times. Your resilience is amazing.
It is not all smooth. It is not all easy. There are COUNTLESS bumps, and pot holes and craters in the road. “The other shoe” drops constantly. Sometimes as a sneaker, and other times as a steel toed boot. Regardless, you dust yourself off and press on.
“Get up. Dress up. Show up. And NEVER give up,” was written for you.
I can not promise you a smooth year. No one can. What I can promise is that if you continue to remain driven, focused, compassionate and loyal, you will succeed in all you do.
My wish for you is that you can spend some time this year learning to love your own strengths. I hope that you can spend less time worried about the struggle, and more appreciating the outcome.
Explore. The world is waiting for you. And the world will be better for it.
I love you more. Always,