Dear Little Fish,
In the darkest days of my pregnancy, I was convinced something terrible would happen to you before I got the chance to meet you. I just couldn’t imagine how you could be ok when my own mother was so clearly not. Rationally, I know the two had nothing to do with each other, but for some reason I couldn’t unlink them. You and your grandma were a package deal.
I never verbalized all of that to your grandma, but she knew I worried about you. “I just want you not to worry so much,” she told me often. And she was right. I didn’t need to worry. Because even though she was taken from us too soon, you are are still here. You are alive, thriving and loved.
Thinking about that made me wonder what else she was right about over the years. With a moniker like Mrs. Rightwood, you can imagine she was right about a lot. It made me wonder what lessons she taught me that I could pass on to you. I’m sure there were many, but the one that comes to mind right away is this: love big.
Like, really big.
Your grandma, she loved with her entire heart. If she loved someone the whole world knew about it. And the whole world better like it.
When I was in second grade, I remember telling your grandma that I loved my teacher, Mrs. McElwain. At seven years old, I was a loud, energetic handful. Often my teachers didn’t know what to do with me. But Mrs. McElwain treated me with nothing but gentleness and grace. From her I got smiles and kind words and jelly beans. Jelly beans! Who wouldn’t love a teacher who passed out jelly beans?
And your grandma, she said to me, “Well, why don’t you tell her you love her?” But I didn’t do it. Even then, I thought it was weird to tell your teacher you loved her. Would she think I was an oddball? Would she laugh at me? No amount of encouragement on your grandma’s part could make me budge. I stayed mum. I would save my “I love yous” for my family, thank you very much.
But now, looking back, I realize that Mrs. McElwain–a mother of two herself–would have undoubtedly thought my declaration of love was sweet.
If there’s one trait I hope you inherit from your grandma, it’s the ability to love big and to love without fear. If you love someone, let them know. People like to be loved. I don’t know one single person who doesn’t.
Your heart is big enough to love anyone you choose: family, friends, teachers, pets, the dentist, whoever. There is always room for more love in this world.
So go ahead Fish Face, shout it from the rooftops.