a letter from rachel to maddy.

i got an e-mail yesterday that had me in tears.

it was a letter from rachel to maddy.

she gave me permission to post it

so here it is:

hey matt,

i wrote this a few days before we left. would you put it somewhere so she can read it when she’s older? i miss you guys. hope you two are having so much fun in the mn.

love,

rachel

dear maddy,

i’ve been joking to your dad as he writes his (your) book that i would be releasing an expose of our trip as soon as i got home. filled with the inside scoop, dirt on how he really is as a father and this trip to india. as our adventure is almost over, i find myself more wanting to write to you about those things. so maybe when you are older and you are curious about this trip, a trip that many people from our country never take in their entire lives and you have taken before you are even two years old, you can read this and remember a little bit of what it was like.

it’s been a challenge. oh my god, have you challenged me and your dad. you jumped up and down in his arms for seventeen hours straight on the way over and then stayed up the entire first night we were here, despite having barely slept in two days, because your body clock assured you that it was not bedtime. you have mastered the high-pitched scream and you use it often and well, usually in your dad’s ear when he is carrying you on his back or in mine when i carry you away from your favorite man. your top two canine teeth decided to make their very first appearances in the world at the exact same time, resulting in blood-curdling, inconsolable cries at all hours of the night in the thin-walled room at the lovely, (formerly) quiet hotel in kathmandu. your schedule has kept me fretting, as we tried to get you unjetlagged and i worried that you weren’t getting enough sleep or that you would be up all night if you dared nap too late. you have smacked in the face, without fail, every single woman in india who has tried to pick you up, and while i try to sternly tell you “NO HITTING, MADDY,” they all giggle at your prowess and make you grin with pride at your cleverness. yes, traveling with a 19 month old is a challenge, and the fact that no one but your dad is crazy enough to undertake it is why we have been met with either raised eyebrows or pats on the back everywhere we have gone.

but i know it has been worth it. i know that your dad beams with pride to see you run barefoot across the floor of a three-hundred-year-old mosque, and that he laughs when you make noises to echo in the huge marble dome of the taj mahal. i see you stare wide-eyed out the window of the auto-rickshaw and i know that it’s impossible that this is not making an impression on you. even though you are so young, somewhere deep-seated in your consciousness is and always will be monkeys in the trees while we ate breakfast; cows lying in the middle of the road; being mobbed by indian people taking cell phone pictures of you; riding a chalk-decorated elephant to the top of the amber fort; drinking out of a coconut in front of the bull temple; the waiters at the oberoi reaching out to pick you up and show you the koi pond; splashing an elephant in the water as he splashed you back with his tail. your dad has already told you, and so will countless other people, but it’s worth reminding you that these are experiences that many people never, ever have. you are incredibly special and lucky to have done these things. and while i’ve worried about you not eating much of anything besides rice, bananas, and yogurt, and i’ve done my best to keep some form of reliable nap and bedtime schedule for you, i know that the importance of these things in your life pale in comparison with the amazing feeling you must have now (whenever this is that you read this) when you let it sink in that you did all these amazing things as a 19 month-old baby. and the reason that you have done these things is that your father wants you to never doubt that you are loved. this trip is just one example of how he has gone out of his way (all the way across the planet, in this case) to give you an unbelievably unique and special childhood and life, and there’s no doubt that he will continue to do so as you grow up. he wants you to be cultured and worldly and open to experiencing life in many ways, not just the way of life in los angeles or minnesota but the ways of life of bangalore and jaipur and kathmandu. he wants to give you memories and photographs that no one else you know will have. he wants you to know how special you are to him.

and there’s one more reason that you are here. there has been a fourth person here on this trip with us and that’s been your mom. i don’t mean that in some weird way, i just mean that we have been retracing your mom’s footsteps that she took while she was here in india and in nepal, and along the way your dad has been sharing so many stories of her time here, and we spent time with people who knew her and now miss her and heard their stories of her time here, too. there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by when something hasn’t reminded your dad of her, and he’s told you about it, or taken your picture next to it, or written a poem about it to share with you when you were older. i never met your mom, but i have learned so much about her in the past seven weeks, and all the things i’ve learned have only reinforced what others have said– that she is completely in you and always will be, in your blonde hair and sassy attitude and independence and iron will.

i realize that up until this point in your life, i am probably the only person besides your dad who has lived with you, up close and personal, twenty-four hours a day, for nearly two months. it took us a while to trust each other, but now we are buddies and i am so sad that this great connection we have is going to dissipate from not constantly being around each other anymore as we inevitably will not be. i know you couldn’t possibly read this anytime soon, but it’s weird to speak in the past tense and say “you were a great baby” etc., so i’ll just tell you– you are such a sweet girl, maddy. you are cute as a button and spunky and fiercely strong-willed. there have been nights when you’ve point-blank refused to sleep, and we’ve recited your entire vocabulary together before you passed out mid-word. and there have been nights when you have made me snuggle right up next to you as you fell asleep, naptimes when you’ve reached out to me and made my hand rub your tummy so that you could fall asleep easier… (in all of these cases i have been so happy to oblige.) you seem to have endless energy, so much so that i sometimes wish i could turn a switch on you to get you to calm down, but you have taught me to become even more patient than i thought i already was. and when i am patient, you always come around, so thank you for that. i love that you call my name, “ray-oh”, over and over when i am in the next room, and i will never forget your adorable ‘please’ (“peesch”) and most-used phrase: “ah-pat”, combined with maddy-trademarked sign language (‘open it’). you want to open everything you see, even things that can’t possibly be opened (a crayon, a sock), because you are curious about the entire world around you and you want to touch, feel, and throw (especially throw) it all. good thing your dad brought you to india, where your curiosity has led you to see and learn hundreds of new things and meet so many great people. i really feel like i’ve witnessed your transition from baby to kid in the past 7 weeks, and it’s been amazing to watch. you are so so so much fun, and i know you will continue to be for the rest of your life. i hope you and your dad will let me stick around to see for myself.

i love you, maddy. thanks for everything. it’s been a blast getting to know you.

xoxox ray-oh (rachel)

watching.

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