Dear Kathryn

Note, this letter was written in 2007 when my daughter attended a high school retreat. She was recently elected President of the Illinois Wesleyan University Student Senate. I am reminded again of the words I was given 3 years ago…


To describe your presence in my life is nothing short of describing a miracle. For nearly 17 years I have been witness to the emergence of a woman with extraordinary, innate talents and nearly limitless potential. The care, concern and love you exhibit for those around you moves me. The love of life you radiate brightens my world. The passion with which you pursue that which matters inspires me. The self-confidence you exude amazes me.

So why is your presence in my life a miracle? How else can you describe the flowering of someone so beautiful from soil that so often seems coarse and arid? As hard as I have tried, as much as I wished to be a perfect parent, I grieve over the endless times I failed. I am saddened by the hundreds of times you longed only for a listening and compassionate ear, and I found it necessary instead to attempt to fix or teach. I lament how often the stress of my life intruded on yours in the form of unjustified anger and frustration. I mourn the lost opportunities when a different kind of attention would have nourished you in more abundant ways. And yet, in spite of my failings, you emerge as a caring, compassionate, fervent young woman. Beauty is always a miracle. Too often we simply fail to take the time to sit quietly and be witness to it.

When I was about your age, on the Feast of the Epiphany, the church to which we belonged hung a HUGE banner with a picture of Snoopy, from the Peanuts comic strip, with an ear-to-ear smile, leaping into the air. Underneath it read, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God on Earth.” Kathryn, when I think of you—and your presence in my life—my hearts leaps much as Snoopy did so very many years ago. And if that kind of joy is an infallible sign of the presence of God on Earth, you are that sign in my life.

Long ago I stopped trying to describe the love I feel for you. Some feelings—and those of a parent’s love for a child are among them—are meant simply to be experienced because they are beyond the limited facility of language. Love transforms. It will have to suffice to say that my love for you makes me more whole, more fulfilled and more complete. I am more human because God saw fit to allow you and me to share a portion of our journeys.

I wish you a life of joy. I wish you a life in which you too will experience often the gift I experience in you.

With endless love and admiration,

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