Leah, my darling daughter, your father and I want to start by telling you we love you, but not any more than we did yesterday. As we’ve told you your whole life, there is nothing you could ever do that would make us love you any more, or any less. We loved you fully and completely at the moment of your birth, and even before that. Today we are especially proud of you, though, and as such, I think I am permitted to make a few wishes for you.
First, may your life be filled with true friendship. You have here today many friends, a smaller circle of very close friends who have known you most of your life, and a best friend you chose at age 2. You will need these friends throughout your life. They will support you in your weakest moments, and celebrate with you in your best. Bind them to you with hoops of steel.
Second, may you keep your family close. You have dozens of cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents here today. These people have loved you since before you were a thought. They live all over the country and they cast a net of love that will hold you wherever you go. May you work your whole life to build bonds with your relatives. Of course, the absence of your Poppy tonight casts a shadow on this special day. You were his first grandchild and he loved you so much. He also loved parties and I know he would have loved this one. But I see so much of him in you and I know he will live on in your memories.
My third wish: may you grow to appreciate the treasure that is your sister. She is the only person who understands what it is like to grow up in the particular brand of craziness that is our family. Josie loves you beyond measure and reason, and will be the truest friend you will ever know.
Last, and most important, may you grow to find true love. I know you don’t understand this now, but there is no relationship, no job, no idea that will be more important than this. I was lucky to fall in love with your father when I was only two years older than you are right now. I didn’t know it then, but your father is the solid ground under my feet that gives me the courage to be the best me and to follow my dreams. He’s the partner who has stood beside me every minute since I was 14 years old, who has created a life with me that began with you.
So, I have four wishes for you, but they are really one wish, broken into four parts. The one wish is that you live a life full of love, the kind of love you feel surrounded by today. May you never forget it.