Sage: Fifty Months

This letter is even more delayed than last month’s. It’s been a very busy few weeks. We’ve spent several evenings and weekends working at the new house — painting, doing repairs, and so on. In fact, we had to have an electrician and an HVAC tech come out to fix a problem that, at one point, we were concerned might burn down the house before we ever even lived in it.

I thought about leaving that note like that, but someday you may want to know the story. It’s not really that much; we had a power surge, we smelled smoke, and when your mother went to check the breaker box in the garage, the whole garage was full of smoke. There was trouble with the main neutral line coming into the house, and we had to get it fixed. We were fortunate — we were there when it happened, you weren’t (so you didn’t get freaked out by our reactions or by the smoke), it was a fixable problem, and Grandma and Grandpa were able to basically house-sit the next day while the technicians came out to fix the problem.

Also, recently… our dog, Chelle, died.

By the time you read this, I wonder how well you’ll even remember her. She was nearly 15 years old, and her health had been up and down for a while, but we had reason to believe she would have been with us at least a few months longer, if not a couple years. But one morning, she seemed to be having an uncontrollable seizure. Later, we learned that she had basically suffered a stroke, which had triggered seizures, and it may have been due to something like a brain tumor. Essentially, the time had come for her last days; or, more specifically, her last day. We made the choice that the best thing we could do for her was let her pass on peacefully. I held her in my arms as the veterinarian administered the drugs; it was like she fell asleep on my lap.

That was very, very hard on you. It was on us, too, but Chelle was your first pet, and you loved her very much. You cried a lot, and you talked about it a lot. You started asking us difficult questions about death… like where heaven was on a map and how we could drive there to visit.

You’ve been a huge help to us lately. You love helping out with things like clearing the table, carrying bags, putting things in the trash. You helped us paint your room in the new house. You’ve told us, more than once, that if there’s something we need to have done that you can do, just tell you, and you’ll do it for us, because you love helping.

Things are about to change again, as we get ready to move into the new house. We’re not that far away from that happening. I hope that it’s a smooth transition, although I expect you won’t be quite used to not being in the same house as Grandma and Grandpa. That may be a little tough on all of us at first. But you’re very excited about having a room big enough that you can have a friend or two over for a sleepover (eventually).

I wish I could give you more updates on your own personality. I feel a little guilty that it’s difficult for me to do that this month, but it’s been so full of events that the day-to-day things have been hard to notice. I know that won’t be a pattern for long.

Oh! I remember the other thing! You’re on the verge of a reading breakthrough. You’re recognizing which letters make which sounds, and so far you’ve spelled three or four words without any help. (My favorite so far? You know how to spell ‘love.’)

Sage, you make us so proud. Remember to be who you are, and we will always be there to support you.

My advice for you this month may sound easy, but it’s not.

Know what you believe.

Lots of people will try to tell you about doctrine and dogma and rules and ethics and morals, and it’s always a good idea to listen, but ultimately no person on earth can tell you with absolute certainty what’s correct. I don’t just mean this about religion or politics. I mean you need to be able to know what you believe just to be able to be okay with yourself, sometimes. There are people who will tell you that it’s not okay to take even a single pen from your workplace, but they will break the law by speeding on the way home. There are people who will scream about the evils of war, but who will emotionally abuse their spouse. I’m not trying to make a point here about any particular action being “worse” than any other; maybe someday we’ll have conversations about that, but my intention here is just to say that you need to know what you’re okay with. You need to know under what circumstances you are okay with breaking a promise, or under what circumstances you would consider lying. (I believe that no matter what people say, everyone will do both of these under their own set of circumstances.) Know yourself.

Especially because by knowing yourself, you can make sure that you are being yourself. And when you are loved, you will be loved as yourself.

And Sage? I love you. Your mother and I both do, wholeheartedly, and we always will. Even if and when you struggle to know yourself or to be yourself, we will love you for who we know you to be. You may not always be the sweet helpful girl who wants to spend time with her parents, but you will always, always, always be our beloved daughter.

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