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Every since I was a baby, you have loved me with a no-big-deal, unconditional kind of love–the kind of love I never doubted. No matter how nerdy I got, no matter how I failed, no matter who rejected me, you held me as dear, never questioning my worth.

As a matter of fact, I think you are the only person whose love I never doubted. Even during the most insecure moments of adolescence when everything was swirling and I questioned everything, you were never a question in my mind. I was always sure of you. I was always sure that you were sure of me. I could be steady in your presence. I know myself to be as strong as an oak when I am with you.

When I was small you held my hand when I got scared and guided me back home. Even now, I feel safe with you. Always sure you have my back. Always sure that I am everything I need, that nothing more is needed You hold me as cherished with all my rough spots, and quirks.

You are my sweet gypsy rose, who will sing with me when life is getting rocky, who will laugh with me because you know all the things that could make me cry. You are a beacon calling me home to myself whenever I wobble. You remind me that I have always been this wise and that it is simply a matter of remembering. You teach me grace, reminding me that love is simply the act of putting one foot in front of the other, pouring the coffee, walking around the lake, talking to strangers, doing the chores, making guacamole, pulling the kayak out to see the sunrise and singing in the kitchen.

Life waxes and wanes, filling up and emptying and yet you, you are still there, a light that guides me back to myself.

My prayer tonight is that you know this love and that it call you home to the wisdom you have always had, the wisdom that allows a 3 year old to love her baby cousin so fiercely, the wisdom that holds us all so steady in your presence.

May you know that you are the north star we all sail by. The one that tells us we are already home. No matter how far we quest, we are already home.

For Leenie, my cousin and hero, who has always loved me and who inspires me to be brave.

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