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Happy 22nd Birthday, Abby.

For many years I have written you a blog post on this day – commemorating the year that has passed and all I have witnessed and marveling at in you, your life, and who you are ever becoming. I’m not writing that post today – at least not as I have before.

Instead, I want to say “thank you.”

I know – being born wasn’t up to you; nor were so many of the memories you have created for me during these two-plus decades. Still, it’s the best way for me to capture what I feel when I look back, when I look ahead, when I look within, when I look at you.

Thank you.

Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for pushing me. Thank you for arguing with me. Thank you for laughing with me. Thank you for crying with me. And thank you for letting me do all of this with you. Thank you for being who you are: compassionate, intuitive, empathic, sensitive, beautiful, brave, brilliant, full of longing, driven, committed, passionate, funny, quirky, heart-centered, and so much more. Thank you for all that makes you you: your love for the Enneagram, great music, your amazing puppy, Jasper, sinfully delicious confections, hot Cheetos with queso, and the same kind of sushi as me. (Admittedly, I’ve left a few things out, but these come to mind as more recent iterations.) Thank you for modeling love: for your friends, your family, your amazing puppy, Jasper, your new home in Montana, and so much more. Thank you for being willing and able to name what you want, what you hope for, what disappoints you, what causes you pain, when you hurt, when you’re sad, what matters, what you can let go of and what you cling to with ferocious tenacity. Thank you for being honest and straightforward and endlessly committed to growing, developing, being the best you can be for yourself and others – even when it’s hard, especially when it’s hard. Thank you for modeling for me what 22 can look like – grounded, clear, wise, boundaried, and strong (all of which evaded me far beyond my 22nd birthday). Thank you for extending me the grace to change and transform and fail and fall and hope and hurt as a mom, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a leader, a woman. Thank you for loving me. And thank you for the gift, the miracle, really, of being privileged to love you.

Those who are yet to love you have no idea what they’re in for, all that they are yet to receive, all the change they will undergo, all the memories and experiences they will cherish – all because of you. 22 years ago I couldn’t possibly have had any idea what I was in for either. That’s probably just as well. My heart would not have been able to hold it all at once: holding you was almost more than it could take, more than I could believe or imagine. And that sensation, that experience, that gift is just as true today as it was on October 7, 1998.

Thank you, sweet girl, for showing up on the planet, in my world, and ever in my heart.

I love you.

Happy Birthday.