Today, you are five years old. It is impossible to express the weight of this statement in words. Once, we didn’t know you would ever be five. We certainly didn’t know that you would be this kind of five: strong, happy, vibrant, charming, beautiful, funny, and full of the kind of determination that gets you across each monumental challenge that has been thrown your way. In the past year you have gained an organ and a whole new life. You were so, so fragile a year ago. Today, you enjoy what I always hoped for you: a normal, healthy childhood.
Every morning, you bound into our bedroom, your feet thump-thump-thumping across the hall. When you catch my eye, you flash the most glorious smile, bright enough to see in the dark. You have only been awake for a few minutes, but you have things to say. You climb into bed with us, and you cuddle. You are generous with kisses and cuddles, demanding even. I always wonder if, having once shared my womb with a twin sister with nothing between you, you will always crave physical closeness. In those morning moments, you want to know the plan for your day. Is there school? Who are we going to see? What are we going to do? You tackle your day with gusto. This year, you were finally healthy enough to become an integral part of your class at school, and you have absolutely blossomed. You have learned, made friends, and gained enough confidence to participate in all activities. Watching you develop close friendships has been a particular treat, after having to keep you isolated from the world for your first few years. You are a good friend, the kind of friend who wants your birthday cake to be the kind that your friend likes, even if she likes vanilla and you prefer chocolate.
You adore your big sister, and she loves you right back. Lucy always says that your laughter is the sweetest sound in the world. I know that being away from her is a little uncomfortable for you, but you are slowly becoming your own person, in addition to Lucy’s little sister. The two of you can play in peace for hours sometimes, which is a sign of how big you now are. Your mind is busy, and you have a constant twinkle in your eye that can go from joyful to naughty, depending on your mood. You are bold, strong-willed, and it is almost impossible to change your mind. As frustrating as these qualities can be sometimes, I know they have kept you alive. I also know that they will take you very very far, wherever you want to go.
My darling child, I always tell you that I love you like crazy, which you think is really funny. When you were first born, that love was mixed with such fear that it felt mostly like pain. Now, it is painted with pride in your strength, joy in your accomplishments, awe at your managing to be a regular little girl through everything you have gone through. I never take you for granted, even when you press my every button. I am still amazed by everything you can do. I can’t imagine our lives without you, your joy, your noise, your delightful stories, your wacky sense of humor. You know that every day is an adventure, and I can’t wait to see all the fun you will have. Happy birthday, little Doo.