“Dear Brooke, my beautiful baby girl,
You’re too young to remember what 2020 was like. After all, you celebrated your first birthday that year, surrounded by family and friends. It was the end of February when we decorated the house with our Winnie the Pooh decorations from your baby shower and sung ‘Happy Birthday’ to you for the first time. That day, our cozy home was so full of people! Life was normal, fun, and carefree. You were showered in love and affection by so many people who simply adore you.
You’re too young to remember that, just a few weeks later, a global pandemic reached the United States of America. There had been talk on the news about this new virus, how the numbers of people infected were climbing rapidly in other countries. I have a vivid memory of rocking you while I nursed you to sleep, browsing on my phone and reading about the virus and how so many people were becoming ill so quickly. Instead of focusing on you and this beautiful relationship we were building, I was ordering respirators for myself, your Grand-mom, and your Auntie.
You’re too young to remember that your Auntie had only just graduated from nursing school four months prior. You were there at her graduation, where hundreds of people poured into the auditorium to celebrate the graduates. You were there, sitting on my hip as I stood beside your Grandmother while we recited the Nurse’s Oath with the graduating nurses. You are the daughter, niece and Granddaughter of nurses, and we are so proud to be a part of this profession. It absolutely has its difficulties, as any job does, but we love what we do.
You’re too young to remember the stress we felt every early morning as we rose from our beds, put on our scrubs, and covered our faces with surgical masks. I will be forever grateful you’re too young to remember the fear we felt as we entered hospital rooms to care for our sick patients, who were on high levels of oxygen, but still struggling to breathe. We were scared of the virus, and we were scared for our patients who were fighting it! One day, I’ll tell you about how, despite our fears, we secured our masks, wore our face shields, and fought alongside our patients and coworkers in the ICU and on the floor. Of course, there were days our resolve broke; we weren’t as strong as we wanted to be. There were days the anxiety and stress of fighting a virus we knew little about took the front seat. But we stood together, stood strong, and gave our all.
You’re too young to remember that your Daddy, your Grandparents, and your Auntie and Uncle did everything in their power to keep you safe. The three of us who worked in the hospitals changed clothes before getting in our cars after work, left our shoes at the door, and became so used to saline nasal washes they were barely uncomfortable anymore. We stopped wearing shoes in the house, and your Grandpa bought us a little device to sanitize our cellphones after having them at work with us all day. We did everything we could think of to make sure you stayed healthy.
You’re too young to remember that people questioned our decisions and others told us we needed to ‘live our lives’ or ‘life is too short.’ We understood and respected that, but we did what we felt we needed to do. You are our world; the sun rises and sets in you. I had so many plans to take you to different places and let you play, explore, and learn new things. I’m glad you’re too young to remember the heartbreak we felt that this exciting year of your life has been spent doing so little. It breaks my heart you had to wear a mask when we did take you out to do things where we could socially distance. But, Baby Girl, you wore your Paw Patrol mask better than many adults wore theirs! We couldn’t be prouder of you.
You’re too young to remember that, because of the stress of the year, your Daddy and I decided we needed to bring as much positivity and magic into your life as we could. Your Grand-mom and Grandpa made Christmas magical for me as a child. I have such amazing memories of the multicolor lights on all the bushes and the big glass C-9 bulbs lining the roof of the porch. I’ll always remember laying on the couch under the small, flocked Christmas tree that sat on the end table beside it and looking up to see all the different colored lights as it illuminated the room. These memories will stay with me forever, and I am eternally grateful for them.
So, on November 2, 2020, you and I decorated our Christmas tree. We strung lights around the fireplace, took down the fall wreath on the door and put up the Christmas one. We played Christmas music, and you got to hear the nostalgic crooning of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. You danced to the music, and you told me in the most precious little voice how pretty the Christmas lights were. You loved putting the ornaments on the tree, and you made my day when you called them ‘balloo,’ your adorable way of saying balloons.
You’re too young to remember running around the yard with your Daddy while I decorated the bushes and trees outside with lights. You danced on the front porch to ‘Have A Holly Jolly Christmas’ by Burl Ives while wearing your purple jacket with teddy bear ears. You walked in circles around the ornamental tree with me as I wrapped it with lights, telling me, ‘Pretty!’ the whole time.
You’re too young to remember that when I worked the whole following weekend, your Uncle and Auntie came over. Your Uncle helped your Daddy string almost all of the lights left while you played with your Auntie. That night, as I came home from work, I was talking to both your Grand-mom and Auntie on the phone. Grand-mom knew of the surprise they had planned for me, and they laughed when I finally turned onto our street and saw our house lit up for Christmas! I was amazed to see how much they had accomplished to surprise me; it brought me to tears! It was a beautiful gift, and it made me so happy to bring you outside the next night and hear you tell us how ‘pretty’ our house looked.
Someday, my darling, when I tell you about this year and all that happened, these are the things I want you to remember. I want you to remember your family is blessed to be considered essential workers and worked through one of the toughest and most unprecedented year we’ve experienced. I want you to remember it is okay to be worried and scared, and, despite those feelings, your family was brave for you, for each other, for their patients and coworkers. Remember, at just over a year and a half, you wore your mask so well! Remember Mommy and Daddy worked so hard to bring joy and light into your world by decorating for Christmas and filling our home with the Christmas Spirit.
I want you to remember, my baby, regardless of all that is going on in this world right now, you are so absolutely, undoubtedly, truly loved by those around you. When things are scary, when the world is as uncertain as 2020 has been, there will always be light. We put up our Christmas tree and decorations early this year for the joy it brings, but also as a tangible reminder of why we do this to begin with. In an uncertain world so long ago, a baby was born and laid in a manger. He is the light that will always shine and chase away the darkness.
Tonight, as I held you in my arms and nursed you to sleep, I thanked God for you, for your Daddy, for our whole family, and for our friends and coworkers. I thanked God for blessing us with His only Son. I kissed your face and I held you close, praying you’ll never have to experience the fears and anxieties we have felt this year.
I hope the magic of this season never dwindles for you, and I pray the Reason for the Season will always bring you joy and comfort.
‘I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.’
-Robert Munsch, ‘Love you Forever’
Love always, Mommy”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jamie-Lee Thompson Hammer from Forest Hill, Maryland. You can follow their journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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