Happy Birthday Letter

Dear Michelle,

I have said Happy Birthday to you frequently today but the sentiment doesn't seem to be enough to truly celebrate you. This is the fifth birthday I've shared with you and each one has been completely different from the next, each unique, like you. In celebration of you, I'm listing many of the things I love about you, even the stuff that makes me a bit nuts because it makes you...you.

You are the most honest, trustworthy person I know. You do not see the point in deception or trickery. You are not malicious or cruel with your honesty but careful and kind. You don't use honesty as a way to hurt people but rather just don't believe one gains anything through deception.

You are generous to a fault. I have seen you give someone the shirt off your back because she really liked it and you didn't have that strong a feeling about it. The shirt had served its purpose for you, you told me later, not seeing what the big fuss was about. And that's how you see your generosity: as not a big deal. You are giving of your time and of yourself. I love to watch you in a crowd of people or with a group of kids, just talking and hanging out. Your eyes sparkle when you're sharing stories or being entertained by others.

One of the things that first drew me to you was your laugh. You have a unique sense of humor not completely unlike a 12 year old boy but you are an incredibly funny person. And you aren't afraid to make a fool of yourself or try something new and you truly enjoy laughing. I often have trouble letting go but you can be silly and not even think about whether or not you look foolish or inappropriate.

I appreciate your outlook on life. I love your optimism, and your belief in people. I wish I had as much faith in the good of people as you do. You do not see the world this way in a kind of blind, naive or ignorant bliss. Instead you choose to have hope in spite of what you know about the world or perhaps because of it. You seem to just have a confidence that the universe has a plan and that we're all part of something larger than ourselves and somehow, some way things will work out.

While it might make me crazy sometimes, I love your childlike wonder at things: the way you can enjoy simple things like ice-cream on a hot day or a game of ping-pong, a walk in the park. Ever since we started taking photographs together, I've loved seeing your point-of-view. I like to take a picture of the exact same thing and see how our perspectives differ.

We have a lot of things in common. We find many of the same things important, value the same things. But we're also very different. I like that you hide behind your fingers during scary movies, that you hate insects and grey skies equally. I love the way you sigh in your sleep, the way you try to trick me into believing things like the history of sumo wrestling or putting my fortune in tea will make it true. I like that I don't always know what you think or what you're going to say.

You constantly surprise me. And in many different ways. I never know what my days with you will bring. I love learning little things about you, watching you discover something new. You aren't afraid to fail at something and you always put your whole heart into the things that matter to you. You live without regrets.

I love that you let me share your food and eat off your plate. I love that you push me to try new things, to be involved and I love that you know when to let me be. I'm staggered by your faith in me, the way you push me to be my best self and the depth of your love. But most of all, I love you because of all the things that are you, all the silly, fantastic, fun, complex, moody, amazing, wonderfully real and passionate facets of you.

I celebrate you, today. I hope your birthday has been full, that you've seen how much better the world and the world of your friends and loved ones is because you're in it. Happy Birthday, Baby.