I've been nostalgic this fall, thinking about last October and November when my belly and ankles were large and my soul was full with the anticipation of meeting you. It was a sweet time those months, trick-or-treating and snuggly stories with your sister, all the little preparations we were making for you, readying our little corner of the world for you to enter it.
There was excitement, but there was fear and anxiety too. The brief life of your sister Avaleen had taught us, among many other things, that there was no certainty, that a little life could be moving and kicking one minute and then, inexplicably, still the next. She should have been turning one last November, but instead of celebrating her first birthday, we were waiting to welcome you, the baby who might not have had existed had she been born as we planned.
And now, my baby girl, you are one. It's hard to believe how quickly this past year has gone, how much you have grown. I spent last Christmas with you as a sleepy newborn cuddled against my shoulder, and now I spend my days chasing you off stools and up stairs and pulling your chubby fingers off of the Christmas tree ornaments.
There are many things I could say about you on your first birthday Celia, about the precious gift of your life, but no matter how I start to write it, it always circles back to this one word: joy, the middle name that has proven such an apt descriptor of you. You have brought joy to my heart in a way I didn't think I could ever feel again after your sister died. You have brought joy and laughter to our home, your busy, babbling self filling in the spaces that once felt so empty. And even on your worst days, when you whine with endless frustration at not being able to keep up with your big sister, when you can't seem to stay out of trouble, I see you smile your beautiful smile, and I can't help but rejoice.
God has been kind to us in you Celia Joy. We love you more than you will ever know.