I should have know you would turn out to be a determined, amazing, strong, daring girl…
…when you burst into the world in record time (less than 30 minutes in the hospital) and at a whopping 10 pounds and immediately demanded to be nursed.
You were ready for this world since before you were born.
…when the children’s librarian said you walk with such determination, like you know exactly what you want and where you want to go — at the grizzled old age of about 18 months.
You are at home wherever you are.
…when your preschool teacher, Noreen, told us during a parent-teacher conference, “Olivia loves everyone, and everyone loves Olivia.”
You are a kind spirit with an open heart and an open mind.
…when, at age 4, you decided to hoard trash and anything else you thought might be thrown away (other children’s artwork, for example) because you thought everything, even trash, was too precious to end up in a garbage can.
You see beauty everywhere.
…when you decided, at age 7, to become a vegetarian because you didn’t want animals to die so you could have dinner.
You put compassion before comfort and convenience.
…when you switched schools and hit the ground running at Elsmere with joy and excitement and anticipation of all that could be rather than sadness over what was.
You look at the future as filled with possibility, seeing “what if..” as a positive not something to fear.
…when you decided you wanted to take camps in blacksmithing, archery, and horseback riding one summer, which followed the year you did photography and Iroquois camp.
You were then and are now my Renaissance girl — beautiful inside and out, talented at everything you attempt, brilliant in school and in life, funny enough to make others laugh and laugh at yourself, self-aware but not self-conscious, full of joy and laughter, unafraid to try new things, unafraid to be who you are, unafraid to dream the biggest dreams you can dream up.
You say some day you’ll live in Paris or Hawaii or California, and I have no doubt wherever you want to go, you’ll get there. One minute you want to be a dentist, then a vet, then a marine biologist, or maybe a photographer or an actress or a chef. I love that you see the whole world as wide open, nothing impossible, nothing not worth considering.
I used tell people I want to be Olivia when I grow up. But now, as you head off to high school and inch closer to adulthood, I just can’t wait to see what you become when you grow up because I know that just going along for the ride will be amazing.
I love you. I admire you. I am so proud of you. Happy birthday, Olivia Irene.