Luke Andrew – you are the happiest, smiliest, busiest little boy. Those big blue eyes make it impossible to say no to you. When you laugh, you sound like a paradactyl so we’re having a dinosaur themed party for you in a couple of hours.
You love everyone. You are the apple of your momma’s eye. Your dad – he’s your best bud. And Lily – well you’re essentially her play doll.
You are a light. Especially this year. You have been a bright spot sweet boy.
Also, I still can’t believe you’re a BOY. I just assumed you’d be a girl. But we’re so glad you are exactly who you are.
Your birth coincided with an already really happy time for our family. Your Uncle Andrew had just completed an Iron Man and your (soon-to-be) Aunt Maddie had run the Chicago marathon. We had celebrated Mimi’s birthday. And your Uncle Lauck and I had just gotten engaged. We were on cloud 9 and just when we didn’t think it could get any better – you were born. Those bright blue eyes. We were hooked.
We had a magical Thanksgiving and Christmas and rang in the new year counting our blessings.
And then the world turned upside down on us.
The day after Uncle Lauck and my engagement party – March 14th – the world started shutting down because of Coronavirus, which caused a global pandemic.
Restaurants, bars, offices, malls – all closed. Everyone started worked remotely. Planes were grounded. Buses were empty. Even the great city of Chicago – was silent.
You couldn’t find toilet paper or hand sanitizer. People were panicked. People lost jobs. Companies have closed. And millions of people have died. It’s been a challenge and struggle for everyone in their own way.
But here’s the thing. In the midst of all of that – there was good. Or there is good, because we’re still in the thick of it and no one is sure how it’s going to end.
I have gotten to spend so much more time with our family. Your dad didn’t have to travel so he has spent so much time with you and your sister. A lot of life’s obligations were no longer, and there is this freedom in that.
I won’t go on about it, I’m sure it’ll be in your history books. Or that I have bored you with stories about it already. But we are making it. And I hope this year has planted that in you. That resilience. The grit. The feeling of standing in the eye of the storm and saying – no, you will not beat me. You can’t take the joy. I will prevail and I will celebrate the good even if the world is pouring down tears and battering winds are making me bend. I will focus on how beautiful it’s going to be when the sun comes out again.
because sweet boy, it will. And even in the midst of a storm – there is joy. There is love. You just have to look for it.
In times that like, look for the helpers. Look for the good – it is always, always there. And in those moments, you will find your tribe. They will surround you. Those are your people. The ones that show up when you hit the floor. Remember that. Because one day it will be your day to repay them, and it will be your turn to protect them. Promise me that you will, because I may not know much, but I know at the end of my life – those will be the times that I am most proud of. When you are selfless and giving and you are standing on the sidelines cheering someone else on. It matters. Even when you don’t think it does. Show up to the game, the recital – go to the funeral when an old friend loses a loved one. Even if you haven’t seen them in ages – it matters. Write to the teachers who make a difference in your life, the ones who take extra time, a thank you note. Even if it’s twenty years later.
In years like these, you’re reminded how much the little things matter. The text message from a friend checking in. the just because flowers. the – ‘I’ll just sit next to you and let you feel your feelings’ moments.
But you’ll also be reminded of how healing fresh air can be. How a good book can let you escape, even if jus for a little while. How a baby’s laugh (like yours!) reminds us all of what we’re fighting for. Be sure to find something in life that gives you peace. Clears your head and your heart. For me it has been exercising – dancing, a long a walk, running. And just in writing this letter I’ve been reminding how, for me, it’s writing. Make sure you prioritize whatever that thing is – and don’t apologize for it. People don’t understand why I workout every day, and that’s ok. I don’t need them to understand. It’s not about them. Mental health is crucial. Find your peace. Everyday.
Be resilient little one. Find the silver lining. It’s worth it, I promise. And if you can’t, then call Pop – he’s never failed to point it out to me all the years that I’ve known him. He’ll lead the way for you.
Be you. Unforgivingly you. I love you.