Three, Again

Allison Mae,

As your brother got his own letter when he turned three a couple of years ago, it only seemed fair that you should, too.

While this will surely embarrass you in a dozen or so years, I can say that you weren’t exactly planned. Your brother finished his last round of chemo a month before you were born. He was just healthy enough to come visit you at the hospital. The timing worked out, but it was close, and honestly, scary.

When we found out you were a girl, we knew your middle name would be Mae. You’re named after your great-grandmother. However, your first name was to be Ellis, but a couple of hours before you were born, the name Allison came to my mind, and we went with it. Not everyone calls you by both names, but I love the sound of them together.

Looking through photos of you while writing this, I’m reminded how much you have changed. Your dark baby hair was replaced by light, thin hair that curls ever so slightly when it gets wet. You have your great-grandfather’s eye color, just like me.

It wasn’t long before you were blasting through milestone after milestone. Once you started to sit up, you wanted to move. Once you were crawling, you’d get physically angry that you couldn’t stand up or walk.

Almost immediately, we could tell that your default demeanor is a serious one. That’s not to say you don’t have fun, but in big crowds, you tend to be shy. You always want to know the day’s schedule so you can be prepared. When playing with friends, you always try to be the boss. You’re far more like me than Josiah or your mom than I’d ever guess.

That’s not to say you don’t have fun or enjoy life. Your sense of humor is amazing, and we often catch you singing to yourself or to your toys when you think you’re alone.

You hate being dirty or having your dress wrinkled. Things must match, and you know exactly where all your stuffed animals are at all times.

In many ways, Allison, you’ve lived in the shadow of Josiah and his cancer. When you were 10 days old, we had to take us with you when we had to go to St. Jude unexpectedly. Every week, Merri takes you along to wait with her while Josiah spends time in physical and speech therapy.

It’s not fair to you, and I’m deeply, terribly sorry for it. You are just as special and just as loved as your brother. I pray there’s not a single day you doubt that fact.

You never get upset if we have to change plans around Josiah’s health. Since you were little, you’ve looked out for him. Protected him. Cared for him. I don’t think you understand that he’s sick, but you know he’s special. We joke that you’re his younger big sister, but it warms my heart knowing you have his back. He’ll follow you anywhere, and sometimes I catch myself not entering a room just to hear the two you interact. I know the two of you probably won’t always be best friends, but for now, I couldn’t be more thankful for it.

These days, you spend your time reading books, playing with animals and dressing up. You’re smart, with a deep hunger for learning. You’ve blown away many of your peers in several milestones, and I know you’ll be able to do anything you set your mind to.

Happy birthday.