You are my Hazel Jane.
As I begin writing this, you are safely nuzzled on my chest, your miniature nose and lips burrowed in my neck—a feeling for which I’m sure I’ll never find words. Sometimes you smile at me when you see me coming, filling me with both joy and unworthiness. Other times you bury your head in my arms, like the comfort of a hug before you learn to actually hug. How special you make me feel, knowing the one I love most in this world feels the same about me, at least for right now. Every time your little lungs fill with air, this fragile heart inside me fills with a little more love. The thought of someone treating you with anything but kindness is more than I can bear to ponder. I will rejoice with you in the easy times, fight for you in the hard times and love you in all times. Your life has led me to vulnerability outwardly inexplicable. Words cannot suffice, for it is only inside myself, locked in my own emotions and feelings that I can understand the depth to which your small yet immeasurable spirit has changed me. As my mom keeps telling me, you won’t understand how much I love you until you have a you of your own.
You are my Hazel Jane.
While your delicate spirit was gently swaddled inside my swollen yet secure belly, your dad and I occasionally asked ourselves, “What kind of world are we bringing her into?” The past few years have piloted us out of naiveté, for we are personally, nationally and globally aware that, baby girl, we delivered you into one broken place.
We live in a world where we ignore poverty and idolize violence. Encourage greed and endorse entitlement. It’s a world in which we recognize success in the form of money and power and fame instead of kindness, compassion and selflessness. People are shooting each other. Hate is acceptable rhetoric. Racism is rampant. People need a homeland and we won’t share ours. Girls are sold as property. Privilege is winning. Intolerance is growing. Fear is overpowering.
How could I bring you, my delightful innocent, my Hazel Jane, into such a place?
Oh, but daughter, there’s another world we live in, too. A world your dad and I believe in. A world that already exists though often seemingly shadowed by the other. A world where reconciliation becomes reality. Where dialogue changes fear into friendships. Where outstretched arms bring peace and unconditional love is above all else. Above ourselves. In this world, redemption sits just around the corner. We just have to push fear aside, peek our head around that corner and hope others will follow.
Hazel Jane, it’s our promise to you that from those first moments when we giddily brought you into your first breaths until the day we take our last, we will give every effort to usher you in to both of these worlds. Where sorrow and hope intermingle. Where reality and optimism coexist. Where despair is inescapably bordered by faith. Where we live for the good of all people and not just for our own people.
I believe in this world. I believe in you. I believe in you to be a part of both worlds. To understand the depths of pain in one but live in the realized hope of the other. To fight for this hope. I believe in you to help create restoration. To give thanks for and celebrate our differences. To use your life in a way that enhances other lives. I pray you’re unafraid to take on the responsibility of bearing others’ burdens, because you live within the confidence that your burdens have already been bared.
I believe in a world where everybody is somebody’s Hazel Jane.
When you see a picture of a hungry child, that’s not a picture. That’s somebody’s Hazel Jane.
When you drive by the sign on the corner that asks for food, that’s not a homeless man. That’s somebody’s Hazel Jane.
When a fellow student wears dirty jackets, gets teased by others and frustrates the teacher, that little girl is somebody’s Hazel Jane.
When the couple next to you at a restaurant dons a beard and a headscarf, they aren’t ‘weird,’ they are somebody’s Hazel Jane.
So peek your head around that corner, and rejoice with them in the easy times, fight for them in the hard times and love them in all times. Yes, this is a broken place, little one. But it’s still a beautiful place. Just look around, find it, and be one, sent by the One, who sustains, creates and multiplies the beauty.
Tonight as we relished in your favorite activity—staring at your reflection in the mirror—with each new bounce and look you giggled with thrill and clasped your pudgy little hands together in pure joy. It is my promise to you, that if you will open those hands to embrace and serve all types of people, you’ll find more joy than you could ever dream.
You are my Hazel Jane.