You don’t know me. I don’t know you. Our paths seem to have crossed. You’re in the seat in front of me, on a flight from Columbus to Orlando.
I’m sure you’re going to Disney. Or maybe to visit you grandparents. You are in your mother’s arms. You are laughing, even if you were crying, it would be okay. You are in a flying tube. You are allowed to cry.
You’re standing up now on your mother’s legs. Stand there as long as you can. Let her be your rock. Your foundation. Grip your tiny toes into her quads. Dig deep. Leave marks.
You keep looking around. Observing. I wish the top of the plane were glass so that you could see all of the clouds. They’re so much prettier when you are in them than they are from the ground. Well, they are still pretty from the ground as well.
Your sister keeps peaking her head back and smiling at me. She’s reading a book. I hope that she never stops reading. If she ever needs a book, you call me and I’ll make sure you get one.
Your sister just handed your dad a sticker. What a special gift. I pray that he saves it. Sticks in on the car window. Sticks it on his phone. Sticks it on his heart.
You are so very young, too young to be forming memories.
By the time you’re my age, you’ll have formed so many memories, but you’ll have even more to form.
Some of them will be good. Some will make you cry. Most of them will involve your favorite people, maybe your parents, or your friend, or your first dog. I want to tell you to form memories of every moment. But you can’t. I am sorry about that.
Try to remember the small things. The way your mom’s legs feel underneath your feet right now. The way your sister gives the most meaningful gifts, like stickers.
If you have a dog, remember the way it feels when he falls asleep on your feet.
Hug him often. Hug everyone often.
When you get older, scary things might start to happen. Tumors will be found in your best friend’s leg. You won’t be able to shower because the floor has MRSA. You will be so scared, but you will never be alone.
I’m on this flight now, heading back from college. Heading back home. Back to my mother’s legs. I’ll lay on the couch with her tonight and my unshaven legs and hers will be next to each other, with the dog laying on both of our feet.
You are crying now. I am crying now.
Your sister keeps smiling at me. And I keep smiling back. She’s missing some teeth. She is not fully formed, but neither am I. Neither is anyone.
The flight attendant is coming through now. We are about to land. I hope that you enjoyed your flight, but if it was scary and stressful, that is okay.
No one expects you to be able to handle everything.
For now, all we are asked to do is to stand on our mother’s legs and take it all in.
This is beautiful. I have been feeling similar emotions around my young cousins. They are so young, so bright, but so much sadness is already coming into their lives and I want it to slow down for them. I want their childhood to be blazing bright with happiness, not with sorrow.
I feel that so much. I too have younger cousins, and as much as I love seeing them grow up into young women, I want to protect them from the world.