Reese Avalon (Year Two).

Dear Reese,

Two years. 730 days. Countless peals of laughter, tear-stricken cheeks, and fervent prayers flung to our King. This is it, my beautiful, precious niece. This is my last letter to you. It’s your turn to fill your pages with words, with love, with life.

Discovery.

Your last 365 days have been full of it.

Though my heart aches for the sweet innocent time I shared with you years ago, what a joy it has been to watch you discover the bits and pieces that are slowly making you who you are. Of course, this year you found your feet. Those little feet have begun their journey of hundreds of thousands of steps; the cautious, wobbly tread of a baby girl has turned into the confident and purposeful stride of a child. We beam with pride while we watch, praying that your feet always walk a path full of grace-covered purpose.

You’ve unwrapped the joys of spending (and sharing) time in the kitchen, bringing joy to your momma’s heart. And perhaps, those hours sitting and stirring on the kitchen counter are slowly helping you recognize that with a little bit of work and a little bit of patience, beautiful things can be made out of the most unlikely combinations. You’ve also discovered your voice, your laughter, and in that process I’ve watched you and your dad, together, discover the countless ways in which you bring each other joy.

You’ve fallen in and out of love with foods, with Dodger, with shoes, hopefully realizing that though life will always be full of options, it is worth finding precious people, precious places, for your heart to make a home with. And in the simplest nod to some of the genes running through you, you have discovered the majesty, the wonder, the beautiful unknown of the ocean. Your feet never seem so happy as they do when there is water streaming through your toes.

I cannot ignore that this year has had its challenges for you, days in which both your mom and dad wanted to give up, give in, when “Why?” was the only word from their mouths. But perhaps the greatest lesson in those challenges was not that you have (and continue to) overcome them, but that even in the midst of them there was joy. Grace. Laughter. You are not defined by a diagnosis, a doctor, a medical regiment. You are defined by your discoveries, and the ways in which you let them shape your life.

Yes, Reese, you are only two. But you are mighty in your newly discovered strengths. The constantly changing ins and outs of who you are may be one of the loveliest things that I, that all of us, have ever had the honor of witnessing. And while you continue to grow and change, we will never stop marveling at you, always grateful for the gift that you are to all of us.

Keeps your eyes up and your heart open; there is an entire world waiting to be blessed by you.

Go write your story, Reese.

I love you,

Auntie Lola

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