Ten. You’re ten. 1-0. Two whole numbers. That’s just nuts. It seems like a week ago that I got up in the middle of the night, 22 days before you were supposed to arrive on Christmas Eve, and thought, “Um, am I peeing my pants??”
But, no, you had just decided that, at 7 lbs 13 oz and fully-cooked, there just wasn’t really any good reason not to get this party started RIGHT NOW. You’ve still got that determined (and might I say, impatient) spirit ten years later.
Never mind that one set of your grandparents were off on a hot date in a hotel somewhere and had to cut it short. Never mind that your 18-year-old aunt and her boyfriend were spending the night at our house (in separate rooms) and we had to leave them unattended (gasp!) to go to the hospital. Never mind that your daddy put in his last day at his job the day before (Friday) and his new insurance wouldn’t kick in until Monday (GASP! for real!).
Even though my water technically “broke,” it was really just a trickle and my completely un-dilated cervix had no intention of expelling you into the world anytime soon, so pitocin it was. O-U-C-H. You totally paved the way for Mama to have super-easy labors with your sisters. Thank you. But O-U-C-H. Daddy likes to tell other dads, “Don’t wear your wedding ring while your wife is having contractions, because it will KILL when she squeezes your hand.” (poor baby)
I was really very completely shocked when the doctor told me, “It’s a GIRL!” I thought every last one of you were boys, and of course, I was a little off each time. But I instantly got all emotional and EXCITED about the prospect of my very own (well, to share with Daddy) daughter. I was in heaven. HEAVEN.
And you, my dear, have been more than I could have ever dreamed all those many, many years (that seem like nothing) ago.
I bought you and Ava journals for Christmas six years ago so that I could write to you every now and again (not nearly as often as I wish I would have, but there’s still time). I have it out now, and it’s making me grin.
On 2.10.05, you and your 2-year-old sister Ava were playing with your play phones. Livi: Ava, do you want to call pizza, Grandma, or God? Ava: Grandma. Livi: I’m calling God. (Pause.) Yeah? (Pause.) Yeah. (Pause.) How can you do that if you’re up there? (Pause.) Well, I hardly know you.
You experienced a lot of death when you were little and quickly became very interested in heaven. When you were four, our friend Reggie White died just a few short months after we had visited his family at their house. You liked to talk about him “never ending” in heaven. Then your Great-Grandpa Yoder died, and you wanted to know, “Did he hit his head on the ceiling when he went up to heaven?” Then Mommy lost a little baby that was in her belly for just a short time, and we spent lots of time (me, you and Ava) crying together for the little brother or sister (Ava insisted it was a sister) that we would never know. God sent us sweet Nina so soon after that–we’re sooooo thankful! Then Mommy’s Uncle Greg went to heaven, then your Great-Grandma Marilyn. You loved talking about heaven and how awesome it will be to live there someday.
I was so sad when you climbed on that big yellow bus to go to kindergarten (you were growing up too fast!), and now you’re in FOURTH GRADE. I don’t even know how this happened.
Do you remember losing your first tooth when you were four? And now you’ve lost TWENTY.
Do you remember playing School of the Woods at Grandma Taviano’s? (you guys still do that when you’re there, don’t you?) And remember all those “Publishing Meetings” at the kitchen table with Mommy? That was your very favorite thing to play. You’ve always been so grown up.
Remember when Ava used to say she wanted to get married and have at least 8 kids (and her husband could stay home with them while she went to work), but you insisted that you were never getting married? (and then changed your mind a couple years ago)
I could write a book (maybe I will) about your first decade alone. You’ve packed it full, girl. Lots of moves, new places to live, 52 Zoos in 52 Weeks, an appearance on the Early Show, dreams of going to Cambodia with your family.
For now, I’ll wrap it up with, “I love you.” I love you so, so much, Livi. I can’t believe God gave you to me and your daddy to have and keep for at least 18 years (which are now more than half over!!!). I know that you really, truly belong to HIM and that we just get to borrow you for a bit. I want to soak up every single bit of the time we have left.
You are one of the sweetest, most caring, smartest, most beautiful, funniest, most interesting girls I’ve ever met.
I love you. Happy 10th Birthday, sweetie!
(If you have a birthday wish–or favorite memory–for Livi, I’ll print them out and give them to her. Thanks!)