Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Dear Beauty,

I'm so behind that I'm not sure where to start. Your 18th birthday has come and gone, and in less than three weeks you are going off to college. 

Hold up. 

It's impossible for me to believe only a year has transpired. Given the whirlwind that was your senior year and all that we packed into 12 months, it felt like we did 5 years worth of living over the course of one year: your first half marathon, your first job, becoming one of ten Teen Star finalists and performing at the Granada Theater, falling in love, a plethora of senior activities culminating up to your prom and graduation...and, I can barely type this without tearing up, the death of Samo. As we approach the first anniversary of Sam's death, I am nearly overcome with awe and pride at how you showed up and prevailed through your grief - despite such a significant loss for any age. You are truly one of my biggest heroes. 
Sweet Samo - Always loved and never forgotten
October 29, 1996 - September 19, 2014

Of all the races I've ever run, this half marathon was the
most meaningful. Photo credit Kaycie Landis
This is a digital painting of your Teen Star
performance created by the incredibly
talented Mirra Tubiolo.
Twue wuv
Your beautiful updo for prom
The heart can only handle so much awesome; your
brother's promotion from junior high was the same day
as your graduation. This also happens to be my favorite photo...ever.
It felt like I had hella more stamina a year ago than I do now. This girl is dog tired, man. I must've been 10 years younger when we were taking college tours last March. Yeah. You remember that one time, you know, when we were casually walking the UCSC campus with Don Cheadle?? #fangirl

Well, howdy. Iron Man has nothing on Don Cheadle.
Speaking of fangirling -- which is not a verb, but I just made it so -- a local writer and acquaintance of mine recently wrote about launching her nearly-adult son onto the unsuspecting world, wondering if she had taught him everything he needed to be a self-sufficient member of society. 

This must be a rite of passage for all parents, because I am fraught with the same dilemma. All the skill-appropriate milestones have been reached: potty training (although I am certain every parent is convinced they'll be sending their son or daughter off to college still wearing pull-ups to bed), learning to ride a bike, using an actual real knife to slice a bagel in half, parallel parking (well, this one is still a work in progress)...the list goes on.

A year ago, we were overwhelmed with college essays and applications. I tried to imagine you on each campus we toured, carrying your backpack and rushing to class. Fast-forward nine months, you have been accepted to 7 of the 10 colleges you applied to. In seventeen short days, you are out on your own and moving off to college. However, all that seems like small potatoes. 

The real question before you leave for college is this: Did I do a good job raising you to be a kind person? A person of integrity and compassion. The type of person who is a more than a good student, but a good friend. The answer to that question is complicated; I've come to realize that those things aren't really up to me. You have been those things all along. 

I was thrilled when you got a job last summer at the YMCA. You are a natural with children and you have an incredible work ethic. My readers may not know that, coincidentally, we happen to work at the same place. It tickles me to no end to see the expression on a coworkers face when they learn that we are related. Easy to get to know, outgoing and friendly...people all comment on how lovely you are. It has been so much fun to see you excel at work (June employee of the month) and go from the newbie to a seasoned veteran in a year's time. 

In March, we will take a trip together to Paris -- a graduation gift from your grandparents. I am thrilled to go to Europe with you and I can't wait to see you conquer your freshman year away at college. 

There are no words to describe this moment.
 You are always in my heart.

Remember to wear sunscreen, study hard and above all...be you. I love you always.