To my beautiful daughter on her graduation day,
I cannot believe this day is actually here. I tried my best to keep it from coming, but it came anyway. Faster than I thought was possible. What words can I say to the girl I grew up with? I can barely remember a life without you in it. From the moment that I first looked into your beautiful face, my world was changed forever. And then you went and did it. You grew up. Far too quickly for my liking. (Well, except for that time between ages like 13 & 14 when we didn't like each other at all for close to a straight year. That could not have gone quickly enough.) I feel like I'm not really ready to let you go just yet. Truth be told, I may never be. I can't really imagine my life without you. Oh, I know that I will always be your mom and we will always be a big part of each other's lives. But I also know that you are going to go off and make your own life. A life where I am merely supporting character and no longer your co-star. It's going to be a very different movie;. I'm not sure I can do it without you.
From the beginning, we had quite the co-dependent relationship. Those first years, you looked to me for food and comfort and safety and I , in turn, desperately clung to you for the peace and joy and warmth you brought to me. You were the first to teach me about pure happiness and unconditional love. You needed me. And you have no idea how much I needed you. You have taught me so much in the time that I have been your mother. I only hope that I have taught you even half as much. You have always been brilliant and funny and absolutely beautiful and it has been the most amazing thing in the world to be your mom. I adore you more than I could ever say and I could not be prouder of the young woman you have become.
I could go on forever talking about how much you mean to me, but I wish now just to leave you with three things that I hope you already know, but it never hurts to be reminded of.
#1: Be Strong
You, my love, already possess such an inner strength. You always have. You have dealt with a lot in your short life. It pains me to say it, but you will deal with much more before it's through. Be strong. The world will try to crush you at times. People will be cruel. Life will give you days that you don't feel like you can possibly get through. You can. I promise. It might take some reaching sometimes, but the strength to get through it is there. Some of your trials will make you stronger. Some will make you question your faith and your ability to withstand it. You will get through them all. And you will thrive. When you are feeling weakest, have the strength to ask for help. We are a prideful couple of people, you and I, but sometimes the best way to show strength is by allowing others to lift and support you.
#2: Be Kind
You are one of the most compassionate and thoughtful people I have ever known. You have the ability to see when someone needs something, and the gentleness to lend a helping hand. Every person you meet has seen suffering in their lifetime. Some people become kinder and more generous because of what they have been through. Some people become bitter and angry and mean. Treat them all with compassion. The ones who seem to deserve it least are often the ones who need it most. I can promise you that you will never regret the choice to treat others with respect and love. It will sometimes be difficult to be kind, but it will always be worth it.
#3: Look Up
I know there are those who do not believe in a higher power. But I know for myself that I have someone I can turn to when I can't do it by myself. So do you. Someone who knew you even before I did. Someone who knows you and cherishes you as one of His own. Look to Him always. Faith will get you through when you cannot find it in you anymore to be kind, or to be strong, or to take one more step forward. He knows you. He loves you. You are never alone. Look up.
I love you, Fantasia. I loved you from the second you became mine. I love you more every day. You are beautiful. You are capable. You are amazing. And you are mine. Forever mine.
All my Love,