Monday, August 31, 2009

Dear sweet Evangeline Grace,

How to begin a letter to you, my darling baby, who are still so small? When I think of you I cannot help but recall to mind those famous first lines of the Elvis Presley song, "Wise men say...only fools rush in...but I...can' in"

It has been exactly twelve weeks since you were born, which seems such a long time, given that, by the time you were five days old, I had only a vague memory of what the world was like before you became a part of it. How does this happen? “It is amazing,” I told your Beppe, “how after such a short time I already consider my life without Evangeline unimaginable.”

A surprising consistency exists regarding how others have responded to a first encounter with you: “She is absolutely dreamy, that girl,” your Nanny said. “So elegant,” said Beppe. “Peace and joyfulness radiate from her little being” wrote your Aunt Sommer, “she is beautiful to behold.”

A moment after I laid you down in your Uncle Everett’s arms, he looked up at me, with his penetrating green eyes, and said, “Why -- she is so calm.” There was a note of surprise in his voice, as of having been arrested by the quietness of your spirit.

When I look at you, there is a kind of paradox that wells up in my heart: I feel, all at once, as though the sheer breath has been knocked out of me; at the same time, you put my heart at ease.

You smile at me almost without being prompted, always giving your affection as though it were nothing, an easy thing. You have long eyelashes; a long, lithe frame; and a diminutive cry, like the bleating of a lamb - these, of all your features, are the three which most frequently inspire comment. You sleep soundly – perhaps you will be less prone to worry than other people? - and when you are awake, you often lay quietly on your blanket, ogling up at the world.

I surmise you are, or will be, a contented little creature – poetic, feminine, gentle, and affectionate.

Last Saturday, throughout most of our 9-hour expedition to Waldport and back, you slept soundly. When you weren’t sleeping, you simply looked mildly out the window, and watched the scenery as it flickered past.

For the last hour of our journey I sat in the backseat between you and Audrey. At a certain point, Daddy asked, “How is Evie? Is she asleep?”

I shook my head. “She’s wide awake,” I said, “and perfectly happy.”

“It seems impossible,” Daddy said, “that she could be so...”

“So sweet?” I offered.

“Yes,” he said. “Exactly. She is so sweet.” A moment later we were surprised to find tears had welled up in both our eyes.

you might ask someday when you are old enough, and pert, isn’t that a common thing to say? Aren’t all little girls said to be sweet?

In a word, yes.

But when people say, “Isn’t she sweet?” they often mean, “Isn’t she cute? Isn’t she charming? Don’t you love her dimples?” When we say you are sweet, we mean that you seem, somehow, to be not only cute and cuddlesome, but kind; not just charming, but endearing; not only adorable, but good-natured, with a spirit that seems to brim with gentleness.

My favorite memory of you during our stay in Manzanita took place last Sunday. It was our last day with Daddy and, as we walked toward the beach, I was mourning the fact that the morning had gone by so quickly. By the time we finally arrived, Audrey had fallen asleep in her stroller. It was windy – far too windy to spread our blanket down on the flat, warm sand and recline under the noonday sun. Instead, genius Daddy dragged the stroller up into the dunes and we parked under the shade of the cattails, in a little indentation of cool sand.

We laid you down in the furthest crook of the dune, out of the way of the wind and sun, where myriad strings of tall green grass formed a little canopy over your tiny frame, dangling over your brow, tickling your cheeks as you slept. I called you, “my little Moses baby,” and we chuckled with joy and wonder every time we looked over at you, cocooned in a kind of Nature-made cradle.

The clouds above our heads, two clusters like cotton awnings, hung low, so low we felt we could almost touch them. And as we watched a pair of pelicans swoop and dive for fish between the rows of waves, my spirit soared with gratitude.

“When she passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music,” wrote Longfellow, in an attempt to capture the quality of his heroine, Evangeline. It is likewise true of you. Already, your presence in my life, in our world, is like the loveliest music. When I am with you I feel as though I am being serenaded – a truth which remains undiminished even in moments of profound silence.

Your very existence inspires me to believe that nothing, truly nothing, is impossible with God – not even a walk through the clouds.

With Love,

And great excitement to become better and more deeply acquainted with you,

Your Mother (amateur sleuth)

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