I got the news of your birth when I was working at the public library in Evanston, Illinois.
"She's here!" My mother said, her excitement vibrating over the phone lines. "She's here!"
You were given a name that makes you automatically sound royal. And so you were with your olive skin and serious eyes.
Because I saw you only on vacations and visits home, you seemed to grow quickly. Moving from mewling cub to sprinting toddler in a blink. I have a photo of you sitting on my lap in the back yard of our grandmother's house. Your legs barely reach the bend of my knee. In another photo, we take the same pose and your legs are longer, slimmer, your baby teeth like seed pearls in your shy smile.
I thought of you as a baby for a long time. I scooped you up in my arms or pulled you into my lap for years. You were a little girl at my wedding with a mouth full of braces and flowers in your hair, but your poise at the microphone as you read a toast hinted at the woman you would become.
Now, nearly ten years later, you are grown. Your olive skin is stretched over strong arms and legs and your brown eyes are wise beyond their years. I look forward to the times that our visits home intersect, to the break in my family life that lines up with your college life.
My kids ask for you, wonder when they'll see you. They love you because though you are now able to buy wine in the grocery store, you are still willing to bounce for hours on the trampoline or behave like a chicken in an impromptu performance at a family barbecue.
You speak French and can take apart and clean a rifle. Your laugh is more of a giggle and because you are just twenty-one, when you bounce on that trampoline nothing on you bounces back. (I try not to hold this against you.) You impress me with your poise, your kindness and your open heart.
With love and excitement for your future.