Today you are six months old. Half a year.
Today also happens to be your grandma's birthday. I will never forget her face as she held you for the first time. She last saw you when you were one week old, but in less than two weeks, you'll be seeing her again. I honestly can't wait to see you together. I miss her terribly. I know she misses us as well. I wish that we could all live in the same place so that she can watch you grow up.
Family is a tough thing, Charlie. I left home because I wanted to live a life on my own terms, not one dictated by my family. I had all kinds of illusions that my family was trying to control me, and in my typical early-20s angst, I rebelled by leaving everyone far, far behind. I moved out of state and settled here in California, and it was one of the best things I've ever done for myself. Looking back on it, though, it was also one of the hardest. It seems that the most worthwhile things in life are often the most difficult.
This past month your grandpa was put into a nursing home. This has been something that's been a long time coming, but even so, the day I found out I spent a lot of time crying. I don't suppose that a daughter is ever ready to hear that her dad is in a nursing home, no matter how difficult their relationship may be. It's so ... final. There's nothing left after the nursing home. It's the last stop.
I wish with everything I am that you could know your grandpa. His illness has been such a long, hard road for all of us, and part of me wants his suffering to end. Another part of me wants him to stick around for many more years because I want him to see you and be with us. I seem to have reverted back to my old fantasies where love brings him back to us and our family is restored. But I know it'll never be what I truly want it to be. Instead, I know we will visit him in the nursing home, and he will not be transformed. He will still be sick. But I also know that he will be so happy to finally meet you.
I never really had the experience of having a grandfather. Both of my grandfathers died way before I was born. Once I was hanging around a hospital visiting my sick grandmother (your great-grandmother), and an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair told me that I reminded him of his granddaughter. I burst into tears; in that moment, there was nothing I wanted more than to be his granddaughter. I couldn't have been more than five years old.
You know what else I wish for? I wish that you had more time with your grandma. I wish that we weren't so spread out so that she could just pop on over anytime she wanted. It's hard, Charlie. It's really hard to know that you might not ever fully get to know my family. It's hard to face up to the fact that I was the one who put this distance between us. I'm not sure how to fix that.
Today you are six months old. And I don't know when you'll ever read this letter, but it will hopefully be at a time when you can understand that no matter how lost and lonely I am at this moment in my life, I wouldn't change one bit of what I've done - because it led me straight to you, my absolutely perfect little man. My life, however, is far from perfect, and at times it makes absolutely no sense. But then there are those moments in the middle of the night when I feed you and then bring you up to my shoulder to pat your back. You lay warm and soft against me. I can hear you breathing as you slip into a safe and oblivious sleep. The whole world is still. And I realize that this moment, this is what it's all about. It's about me and you and love and how devastatingly fleeting time is. It's about recognizing each moment for what it is: an instant that is going to pass and give way to the next instant. These instants, they're what make up our lives. Our imperfect lives, full of pain and suffering. And love. It all makes sense for that one instant as you and I sit together in the blackness of your room. Love will always carry us through the darkness and our pain. It's the one thing we have to hold onto.