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Challenge: Open Discussion

A letter to the woman who gave me my daughter: 'When we talk about hard things, we talk about you'

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Hi, Miss Danielle! How are you? We were talking about you the other day; like she does sometimes, Remi brought you up and began asking questions about you. I love it when she does that. I love telling her all I know about you. She listens to every word, I can tell. She is holding those things close to her heart.

Last weekend Remi played a softball game and pitched for the very first time. Danielle, do you know much about softball? Everyone gets real quiet and judgy. As worried as she was that she wouldn’t do a good job, I was worried that someone would yell at my kid and I’d end up throwing my pickle at their head. Yes, I’m that mom. I doubt you are surprised.

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The starting pitcher was getting tired and they brought in Remi to relieve her. Now — and this is where things get real — I’d love to tell you how awesome she is, but I’d be lying. And that’s why I’m writing you today.

Danielle, I’ve never told Remi — or anyone for that matter — what happened the night before you went in to the hospital for delivery. Do you remember? Do you remember that I took you to get a pedicure and do you remember what happened? A woman, in the pedicure chair a few down from us asked you when you were due and you said the baby was coming tomorrow. She asked what you were going to name her and you referred to me. Politely, graciously, kindly you said, “I’ll let her tell you since she’s naming her.” I have never forgotten what happened next. This woman, this random voice fueled with anger and venom, proceeded to scream at you for the decision you were making. She — in one minute — brought us both to tears.

She testified to her unflinching ability to raise her kids on her own with no one’s help.

She praised herself for needing no one.

She screamed at you to “grow up” and “do the same.” She mocked my inability to be a mother and having to resort to “buying one.” I’m not sure who grabbed who’s hand first, me or you. But together we walked out, got in to my car. And sat there.

I wouldn’t have known what to say back then.

But I do, now. It took me some time but I’m more sure than ever. But first, let’s go back to my story…

It was the last inning when Remi’s daddy — aka the Coach — made his way to the mound (yes, he’s one of those dads). She had already struck out one little girl and we needed another one just like that. He went and had a few words with her. She smiled, he smiled, and that was that.

In case you were wondering how the game ended up, she threw two more strikes and 417 more balls. So, we’re not holding our breath for any softball scholarships at this point.

Also, I threw my pickle.

I asked him later what he said to her. I’m telling you because my hope is that were your mind to ever lean toward that nail salon — were it to ever give a moment’s credence to that freakin’ idiot, were your heart to feel heavy — that you will read and re-read these words a thousand times.

“Hi, baby, how you are doing?”

“Terrible.”

“Actually, I think you’re doing amazing.”

“You do? Have you been watching the same game?”

“I have. I’ve watched every second. I think you’re doing great. This is your first time, you know.”

“But Daddy, I’ve had lessons…Six!”

“Some people have to have lots of lessons before they can even get it over the plate. Are you sure you’ve only had six?”

“Stop it, Daddy, you know I have.”

“But you’re getting it over the plate. So how do you explain that? You’re doing amazing, Remi.”

“Thank you, Dad.”

“Also, I’m really proud of you. Because I know you’re a little bit nervous…”

“Yes, Sir…and I kinda want to go home.”

“I know you do. Everybody is looking at you. Counting on you. That’s hard! But, Remi, you know what else? You’re fierce. You are one of the strongest, bravest girls I’ve ever known. You know where you get that from?”

(And here’s the part you’ll love.)

“Miss Danielle?”

“That’s right. You absolutely get it from Miss Danielle and I love that about you. Remi Hope, if you walk every single batter that comes up to the plate, I am still going home with the most confident kiddo on this field and I could not be prouder. So, don’t stop now, baby.”

“Okay…”

And she didn’t stop.

She never does.

Danielle, on the day I walked out of your hospital room, I turned to you and promised you that in our home from that moment forward until forever you would be regarded as a hero.

Because you looked hard in the face and did it anyway.

Miss Danielle, I’m not sure what your childhood looked like or if you ever even played a sport. But if no one ever ran out to the mound, looked you in the eye, and told you how fierce you were, allow me to do it now: You are one of the bravest and strongest women I’ve ever met and even if you walk a million more batters I’m still holding in my arms the most incredible thing you’ve ever knocked out of the park and I cannot thank you enough.

Remi was right that day. She did remind us of you. Because when we talk about hard things, we talk about you. Miss Danielle, you are the example we give to keep doing what we don’t think we can ever do.

All our love.

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This excerpt was taken from the author's book, "Eat Cake. Be Brave."

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