It's a numbers game. A racket. It has to be, right? The fact that you are 13.
12 years ago, on your 1st birthday, I asked our family to each write you a letter to the once and future Zo. I started with 13. Somebody else got 14. My mom got 17 and didn't just write a letter, but a composition book. (That one is going to kill me to read, if you let me read it, that is.) The letters go all the way up to age 21. But on this day, 12 years ago, you were just turning 1, and the possibility of you at 13 seemed as incomprehensible as the number of stars in the Universe (3 sextillion), as fathomless as the fact that 99.9999% of matter is empty space, as wondrous as the matter that it rains diamonds on Saturn, as mysterious as a photo of a black hole, as baffling as the reality that Donald Trump is our president, as unimaginable as the truth that my mom and brother are now gone.
But here we are and you are 13, as simple and plodding as time. Oh, Zo—at 13 you are a wonder! All legs and hazel eyes and lashes. Last night we took the box of letters down from your closet shelf and read the journal I kept while pregnant with you. Before you, even. A page from April 23, 2005—14 years ago to the day—when I thought I might be pregnant but wasn't yet. Dear Soul, I wrote, and the rest is history. Sprout, Baby Girl, lists of what we called you before we knew you, Willa, Milla, Allegra, Odile, a list of names and at the bottom, you. Zoey Dimon.
At 13 you play guitar and ukulele, shutting your bedroom door to sing. You skateboard and surf. Your teacher calls you out for being an excellent writer, you're getting an A in math, doodles on every page because more than anything, you are an artist. My girl. My sweet sweet baby girl Sprout, your big eyes so much like my own mom's eyes. You know now, don't you? my mom said to me the day you were born. You know how achingly much I love you. And I did, I do, and one day when you have kids of your own, you will know, too, all of this some sort of parallel Universe of simultaneous synchronicity. Don't ask me—I struggled to get a C in math. But this much I know: time is not only pulling us in one direction, but in all directions. I loved you before you were even here, and I will love you long after I am gone. And tonight you will read the letter I wrote to you 12 years ago today, when you were just 1. Always and forever, my sweet petunia faced girl.
I love you, I love you, I love you,