Ranting and rage seem to be my jam of late. I mean, obvs right? Stuff is so haywire, collective nightmares and hopeless empathy, railing and angry, my mind is sad and I’m tired today.
I was thinking of love letters and how they soothe my savage soul. Writing love letters is prolly the most over the top and indulgent writing one can do.
My niece’s 8th birthday is in July and I try to write her a love letter every year. Sometimes I don’t but mostly I do.
She’s almost 8 and is easily the most brilliant, hilarious, charming, fashion forward, badass, caring, artistic, nerdy, young woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and I’m grateful that she calls me “Auntie”.
Here’s a short history of Auntie’s love letters to ASH.
I made two hundred and fifty something tamales in preparation for your arrival, ASH. Chicken and Chile Cheese. Your mother and father had been in the hospital for four days and you were a month early. Your Grandma Jessie and I were holding down the fort, waiting for you. We were getting ansty and there was nothing else to dust. So, the night before you arrived, Grandma Jessie and I went dancing. I met a West African exchange student. He was at UCD for the dance program, so naturally we danced together. His beige pants were a little short and he had on a white dress shirt. He looked just right. The house band played Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime.” We threw our hands up and our knees were loose. The bar faded and was replaced with a backyard in West Africa. The bright sun filled the dark club and was filtered into tiny, multi-colored spots in the air. I could smell grass and dirt. I grabbed my head and shook my bottom.
“In the summertime when the weather is hot,
You can stretch right up and touch the sky. . .”
We toasted your impending arrival and said goodnight.Grandma Jessie dropped me off at your house. I had had a bit to drink and with all the cleaning and tamale making and fretting I was due for some sleep. I fell asleep to reality TV on the couch. A few hours later I awoke to the sound of rushing water in the garage. I went in to see what it was, and the utility sink was clogged and the whole garage was filling up with water. I tried to stop the source of water while calling your Grandma Jessie to help. I called your dad once. It was three in the morning. Then, I started moving everything in the garage. Boxes and boxes of books, records, photos, and gas powered lawn mower, and what seemed like one million CDs. On the thirtieth try, Grandma Jessie answered her phone. Right then, the water stopped gushing. Granma Jessie came over. We mopped up and promptly passed out.
I woke up early to survey and clean the damages. I found pictures of your father and me pretending to be muscle men on the beach, on white sands in Florida. The sky behind us was stormy. He was 3. I was 8. I found letters from your father’s father, to his father about your father. I found “The Jungle Book” soundtrack and could remember watching your father bouncing up and down in his bouncer, the very first time I saw him dance.
“Oh, oobee doo
I wanna be like you
I wanna walk like you
Talk like you too. . .”
The rest of the day was all nerves and dusting, and redusting.
At around 5 o’clock, you were born. Your Mom and Dad said it was easy, easy once you decided to come out. I downed a Makers Mark on the Rocks and then, Grandma Jessie and I drove over to the Hospital to meet you. On our way, we stopped at the Drive Thru, at the In-N-Out Burger, right next to Blake’s Heating and Air Conditioning. As you know now, I sing when I am nervous, or excited, or cooking, or in the shower, or breathing, or awake, and the wait at the Drive Thru seemed to take HOURS. So, I sang a song about it, and how much I love it, Grandma Jessie recorded it, and now it is Hit song amongst my friends. Then we went to see you.
ASH, my life changed that day. Every other person dropped a spot on my list of favorite people and you filled up the top 10 spots, the instant i saw you. You, my darling, smart, strong, funny, and beautiful niece, are my favorite. I am so glad you decided to land in our family.
One year later, there are still a few tamales in the freezer. Chicken and Chile Cheese.
Happy Birthday, Aubrey Sarah Hibbard.
I love you.
3 years later, the tamales are finally gone.
You talk now. You laugh and you stick out your tongue on purpose. You love your family and your friends and we can tell when your eyes light up and you snuggle and cuddle us.
You’re long and strong and daring! You’re thoughtful and helpful and hilarious. You can hold your breath under water! I’m so proud to be your aunty and your friend.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, ASH!
I sure do love you!
4 years later, you are still growing strong. Stubborn, beautiful, graceful and smart as a whip. You are concerned with others’ well being and your sense of humor is sophisticated beyond your 4 years!
I have so much fun with you, ASH! Watching you take a deep breath before you swim UNDER WATER is inspiring! I am so glad that I get to hang out with you. I love you so. I am the luckiest Auntie in the whole wide world! Happy 4th Birthday, ASH! Cheers!
It’s 6 years later now. You have a little brother. He adores you! You’re patient with him and protective. You are a wonderful friend and you CRUSHED your first year of “real school.” You never just ask “why?” You make a concerted effort to understand and always ask follow up questions if you don’t. This is the year we invented “Poop Face Hibbard” and we both started to perfect making fart noises without making “fart face.” This is the year of “auntie Thursdays” and our walks through the cemetery. Our conversations on those walks are some of the best I’ve ever had. You’re quite a young lady and a terrific human. I’m so so so so so so so glad that I’m your “Auntie!” I love you so, Aub Dobs.
It’s 7 years ago now, ASH!
You are my best friend and such a great older sister to lil r.
I’m actually afraid for this tiny town now that the 2 of you are all up in it.
You make me full on belly laugh on the regular (which is a rare trait, but his would you know). You are a total nerd, extremely fun, fast as lighting (maybe the fastest in the whole family including Sam), compassionate, thoughtful, wicked, an extremely snappy dresser, and easily my favorite person on the planet. I love you so so so so so so so so so so so so so much.
Here’s 7, you kookie poop face hibbard!!!! Enjoy! I love you ❤🎉
I recommend writing love letters. To friends, family, your neighborhood, a tree, or your favorite food. It’s fun and soul saving and your heart’s history.