My Darling Phoebe,
It's hard knowing how to start this letter to you because I want it to be perfect. I once though being a good writer meant you could wiggle your way out of parking tickets and speeding fines, but not anymore. Now I know it is being able to speak from the very deepest part of your heart.
I want to write well simply so I can tell you exactly how I feel about you, convey each of my bubbling emotions, explain how much you mean to me, how one cuddle from you is an adventure more amazing than a thousand hot air balloon trips across a thousand sunsets. But telling you exactly how I feel is like trying to do the impossible. But then again that is what being a daddy is. It is trying to do the impossible for you, forever and always, whether that means trying to fix your first broken heart, every broken heart, trying to shoulder every ounce of pain you’ll ever encounter, trying to protect you from every tear that wells up behind your eyes and trying to tell you exactly how I feel.
So, here goes I guess.
I can’t believe how much you have changed in the last year, Little One, or how much you have changed me, and mummy, and our Mad Little Family.
When you turned 1, I loved you more than words could ever describe, ever know, ever fathom, and not just my words. I’ve read Shakespeare’s plays, cried over Bukowski’s odes and listened to Leonard Cohen’s songs, each of them poets that have transcended both time and love, and yet even their words have fallen flat. No one is capable of unfolding how much I love you. When you turned 1 I loved you with everything I could give. My heart protected more love than any heart should be able to contain, at least without it bursting at the seams or exploding like the grandest fireworks display, bright colours splattered across a warm night sky, each one heart shaped, each one eternal.
Yet despite this, I somehow love you even more now. You have just turned 2 and my heart is swelling with the stuff. There have been times I’m certain my heart has finally exploded, or at least leaked as my eyes well up for no real reason other than the pure joy I get from watching you entertain your curiosities and figure out the world, your world, whatever your world may be in that split second. You melt me, Phoebe Isla. You totally disarm me. I cry for no reason. It is like my love has no other option but to manifest in tears, my cheeks stained by wet ribbons, the mark of a dad in love with his daughter, his family. You also make me laugh like no one else can, sometimes for hours, sometimes until it hurts. Sometimes it is because you have asked me something wonderfully unexpected and other times it is simply because your laugh is so beautifully infectious, so beautifully pure, so beautifully honest.
To bring you up to speed where you are now, you are exploring everything, and mummy and me do nothing but encourage you. We try and make everything into a game, absolutely everything. We’ve decided there is nothing we can’t make fun, and you are the pinnacle of that reasoning, the very reason for it. We count to ten as we climb the stairs to your room, then to fifteen as we go higher, all the way up to twenty-nine, which is mummy and daddy’s room, or your play room as we have come to accept. We have a ridiculous teeth-brushing routine, the best teeth-brushing routine, where we all jump around and dance a silly dance when you make it to thirty seconds of brushing, cheering and whooping from our own special podiums: me standing on the bath, mummy standing on the loo and you fist pumping in the laundry basket. But it isn’t just the mundane you have managed to turn into magic. You know how to play proper games. Christ, we have had some of the most incredibly epic games of hide and seek the world has ever known, and by gum are you a good seeker (I apologise for writing ‘by gum’ but not for the word ‘seeker’ because that still reminds me of Harry Potter and I can’t wait to read these with you). We have some of the best water fights ever encountered, you in your wetsuit, Eva and Claudia and Rosie and Dillon all protecting you as water flies in every which way.
Let me think, where else are we at?
Well, more than anything else in this world, I hate saying goodbye to you each morning as I head of to work. We kiss each other at the door, then kiss each other through the window and then yell “I wuv you” to each other as I head off on my bike, waking the neighbours without a care in the world. I then spend all day counting the ticks and tocks of the clock, my feet tapping faster and faster as the day goes on, my excitement spilling over as I rush home to see you and mummy each evening, trying to sneak in as quiet as possible, which never works, because before I’ve even made three steps I hear you sprinting toward me from the kitchen, screaming ‘Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy” - a gorgeous staccato, the best staccato. If they were the only words I got to hear for the rest of my life, then so be it, because I know I would be happy every single second of every single day for eternity and more, over the moon, my cheeks aching with joy and love.
Oh, there is so much I want to tell you, so much more than I have, but we’d be here for eternity and a day. Mummy has quite rightly warned me that if I keep writing this much then you’ll never finish reading them. So I’ll try and wrap it up and give you just a few more snapshots of your perfection, what makes you you and why our love is absolute:
+ I love the way you love everyone.
+ The way you blow kisses and give cuddles.
+ I love how well mannered you are, how kind and sharing, how smiley and positive,
brave and fearless.
+ I love the way you do roily-polly’s, the way you climb up the sofa arms and jump off
them, legs extended, your bottom taking the full brunt of the bounce.
+ The way you sing with your eyes closed, one hand on your chest the other in their air
as you swing side to side.
+ The way we share a bowl of cereal in the morning.
+ The way you wrap your arms around my neck when you come into our bed, breathing
into my neck as you fall asleep, still cuddling me.
+ I love the way you say Pop Pop and G, ba-bye, pleeeeease, na-night, me do, my go my
go my go, shoe please (instead of excuse me please), nack-nack (for snack snack),
nogit (for yogurt), beetdeet (biscuit), bite more (more food), more please, and the
bestest of them all, I wuv you; I wuv you Mummy, I wuv you Daddy.
+ The way you say I wuv you with your arms stretched out wide.
+ The way you say how like the Native American Chief in peter Pan.
+ I love the way you copy everything me and mummy do with this heart-melting
bemusement, your eyes filled with whiz and marvel as we put deodorant in the
morning, before your arms slowly lift and the word, ‘pleeeease’ floods out of your
mouth with a meek twang, the kind that confirms you have no idea what is going on
but you trust us completely, you trust mummy and daddy and to the moon and back.
There are a million-million things that make you a miracle, Phoebe Isla, from the way you have saved me, to the joy you bring mummy, to the way your eyes light up every morning when you first wake up, simply excited to see a new day, your big blues flickering with the charm of a thousand stars, your smile getting wider and wider as you wake me with the tightest cuddles and the words, “Daddy, daddy, daddy,” before you roll over and nustle into Mummy, desperate for her to wake up too, desperate to share the day with both of us knowing it is the start of another adventure.
But if there is one thing I have noticed more and more as you have grown, one terrifying and wonderful thing, it is the fact you are a Howell in every sense of the word. It is not just your love of life, or your infectious desire to immerse yourself in everything - smells and sounds and dancing and joy and just life - nor is it just your rebellious and fearless go-getting nature, a mischievous chancer with the cheekiest face to ever grace the world, the best cheeky face. Above all of this, the thing I have come to notice most is your aura. It is hard to explain, but you have this inexplicable magnetism, this thing, this lust for excitement that is infectious beyond belief. I saw it in my dad, I see it in Uncle Olive, I see it my cousins and, more than ever, I see it in you. There is something rare about you, something mad an untold. You epitomise everything that is wonderful in life, everything that is important, a that can be reduced to one thing, your happiness. You are my all, Phoebe. You are your mummy’s all. You are our everything. You are a mad one to the very core, mad to live, craving of everything, excessive to the point of grace, and whilst I don’t want you to grow any more, I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life immersed in your love, laughing with you and mummy, my girls, adding more and more snapshots to our mad little adventure.
Stay weird, stay wonderful, stay you… and remember, keep dancing with the fairies, it is much more fun that growing up.
I love you sweetheart.