You graduated!

Goodbye university; hello rest of your life. I wish would could be there to help you celebrate it all this weekend.

Since I can’t, here’s the thing. Actually, here are a few things…

You don’t remember this, but I’m sure you’ve been told. You were not an easy baby. You arrived loud and fussy and with a mind of your own about what you liked and didn’t like. You changed the rules, right from the start, about what it meant to raise a child, and how parenting is not something you can simply plan and execute, but it’s something you grow into and learn into and lean into. And how sometimes it’s a fearful thing, growing a child up. You taught me that before I had kids of my own.

It was a good lesson to learn early.

I think of you, all chubby toddler, and you had sass, even then. You and I would sit and tell stories at your kitchen table, eating your mom’s macaroni casserole with peas. We’d make’em up, wild stories about such things as my crazy dog Flint and how we we’d take him for walks and he’d be naughty and we’d finally get so tired of looking after him that we would decide to cook him for supper. Ew. Ew. But you loved it and you’d laugh and laugh.

You taught me the importance of having fun.

You were my buddy back then when life kept us closer than it does now. We’d take exotic trips to the mall or the university or the park, and you were so funny. Goodness, you were fun to be with. I picture you in your hot pink leggings and your hair wild. A crazy, laughing prairie flower. I missed you so much when you moved.

You have prairie roots, and don’t you forget it.

Gosh, you are a beauty. You’ve grown into such a beauty. You are all kinds of fresh loveliness, the lovely of good genetics and good health and good dental care. But you wear your beauty casually. You are a messy bun kind of girl, and it’s no secret that if there is a pin on a clean floor you will find it and trip over it. But that’s your charm. That gracious juxtaposition of angelic beauty and Mr. Magoo-ness. Messy beauty, that’s you, and that’s the real thing, I think.

You are the real deal.

I’ve missed you these past years. You’ve grown up in another place doing other things and I’ve watched from the outer edges as you’ve tackled challenges and I think you’ve learned some important things about life through it all. You’ve had to face some hard things, and you’ve had to give up some wonderful things, and you’ve had to learn that life has as many goodbyes as it has hellos. You’ve learned that finishing is a lot harder than starting.

You finished this college thing. Yay you!

And now you are off on an adventure. The first of many, I hope. I’m so excited for you. I’m excited for the things you will see and touch and taste and experience. I know it will be amazing. I know it will be challenging. I know there will be messy bits along the way but I know you are up for it all.

And this guy I’ve heard about. Rick? Mick?

You know I think he’s not good enough for you, right? I mean, I’ve never met him and he’s probably perfectly nice and all, but you are my precious angel, daughter of my heart, first child to call me auntie, and I love you more than words can begin to express. So this guy whose name ends with ick, well, he’d better watch himself.

And this adventure you are heading out on? I know your mom would like me to tell you to “be careful” and “be safe,” and yes, I hope you will be. But it’s a trip around the world, for heaven’s sake. So I’ll just say, “don’t be stupid” and leave it at that.

When you get back, sometime when you need less adventure and more quiet, come visit me. We’ll sit in my yellow chairs on my porch, under GG’s old pink quilt, and drink tea and talk about travel and life and love and Jesus.

I love you, Brea. You know I’m wiping tears as I write this, because you are my girl. You are my precious, precious girl and I love you with all the love an old auntie could possibly have.

Congratulations on your graduation, and take lots of pictures on your trip!