To my new niece, Evelyn Grace Shrader:
Hey Evie! Welcome to the world. As you might already notice, it’s a big, cold, scary place, and it will continue to get bigger, and colder, and scarier. You will be hurt, sometimes so badly you won’t feel like getting up. Someday you, like everyone else, will die.
But that’s the bad news. The good news is that this world is a big, wonderful, loving place. And it will continue to get bigger, and more wonderful, and more loving. There will be days when you will dance out of joy and cry at the sheer beauty of this world.
And this is a dichotomy, and it is the essence of our joyful melancholy here on our ugly, beautiful planet earth. So, as your uncle, here is my advice to you.
Trust your parents and family, because they want the best for you. But as you get older, question everything; even your parents, especially yourself and anyone and everyone that tells you what to do or deigns to give you advice.
But most importantly, Love. Right now you know love through your mother’s embrace and warmth. You’ll find love in your father’s devotion to you. Love is all around you, and it will continue to grow as you grow. To paraphrase Jimmy Santiago Baca: Your family loves you. It’s all we have to give, and it’s all anyone needs to live and go on living inside when the world outside no longer cares if you live or die.
You are loved.