Letters to my Niece

Last night I was in a writing mood, but wasn’t really in the mood for storytelling. Poetry seemed… trite. Flash fiction? Just wasn’t feeling the inspiration.

As I sat with my laptop scalding my lap [man, those Macbook Pros get hot!], I let my eyes wander the room.

Pictures on the coffee table of my niece. A book of stamps on the counter. A stack of spiral notebooks on the bar, an impulse buy because they were purple and it’s very hard for me to NOT purchase items that are purple and pink, regardless of their practicality or use.

Seriously, how do you say no to these? Especially during the back-to-school sales! Only 16 cents? I'll take 4 dozen!

Seriously, how do you say no to these? Especially during the back-to-school sales? It’s not possible. Only 16 cents? I’ll take 4 dozen!

I procrastinated a little longer, taking silly pictures of my puppy and wasting time – something I’m not normally prone to do but a bad habit I’ve picked up when I have writer’s block.

And then it donned on me: I didn’t want to write a story.

I wanted to write a LETTER.

In our digital world, it’s such a rare and pleasant treat to get a letter in the mail. A card from your grandmother can leave you smiling for weeks. Liliana, my niece, is going to grow up in a world where the “written” word will rarely be written. I recently read an article stating that most elementary schools are removing cursive from their curriculum, as it’s considered outdated and passe.

Really? The art of beautiful – and expeditious – writing is now considered antiquated and dead.

It’s a sad time for the literary world.

I decided that I wasn’t going to let my niece grow up not knowing the beauty of fresh ink on crisp paper. The smell that a spiral notebook has when you first open it – woodsy, with a sweet, cloying flavor on your tongue from the glue that binds it together.

I closed my Macbook Pro and tossed it [gently, of course] onto the coffee table. My thighs, bright red as they were, said a little prayer of thanks to the Gods of Paper and Pen and they welcomed the soft, cool texture of a brand new spiral notebook.

The funny thing about writing a letter to a 13 month old is the fact that you never know if they will actually read it. Of course, I have no expectation that she’ll read it now – she’s gifted, but not that advanced just yet – and I’m not 100% sure if she’ll want to read it in the future. I try to imagine Liliana as a teenage girl, flipping through a ragged, purple notebook of letters from her now-uncool Aunt.

Will it fascinate her? Will she care what I had to say to her when she was a baby?

I’m not sure.

Under the resentful eye of my disregarded Macbook, I penned a letter to an infant.

I didn’t know what I wanted to say but found that the words flowed easier than expected. I told her that I loved her and that she meant the world to her Mommy and Daddy. I told her that she made our lives complete. I reminded her that she can be anything she wants to be and that she’s far more than just a beautiful face.

She may be thirteen months old, but she has unlimited potential, unlimited opportunity, and a family that will do anything to propel her forward.

The urgency at which I wrote shocked me. It felt like I needed to write this letter and she needed to read it. My hand, unaccustomed to such strenuous belletristic exercise, cramped up. I persevered, eager to at least close this one letter and to keep the handwriting somewhat legible. I wanted her to see the beauty of cursive so I had to power through!

When I finished, I sat back on the couch, marveling over the first handwritten letter I’d prepared in years. Yes, I’ve sent a few Hallmark cards out with a quick sentence or two penned in, but it has literally been years since I sat down and drafted a full letter.

Two pages. Not bad for a first attempt.

I’ve decided that I’m going to keep this spiral notebook and try to fill it with letters. Letters for her as an infant, letters for her as an adult. Letters to talk her through the experiences of loss and joy, fear and pain. She’s not my daughter, so the true conversations about crushes, puberty, and heartache will naturally come from her mother. I’ll just throw my two cents in, too, in the event she ever cares to hear it. Perhaps I’ll keep the notebook for myself or perhaps a time will come when it feels right and natural to give it to her.

For now, I’ll just be writing letters to a baby in the hope that she stays that way for a long, long time.

~ Victoria Elizabeth

 

Seriously, this little girl is my world.

Seriously, this little girl is my world.

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