Today is my eldest niece’s 18th birthday party. She is a beautiful talented young woman with whom I have a deep affinity. She just received seven academic distinctions for her final year at school. She is a wonderful ballet dancer and artist and is hoping to study architecture. For her coming of age I wrote her a letter of all the things I wish I had known when I was 18 years old.
As I write about what I have learnt about life in the twenty one years since, so much of the confusion that has been clouding my own vision falls away. And as I write to her I am starting to write these letters to you in my head, and although you aren’t even conceived yet you are starting to become real to me.
At the front of the journal I have bought for your eldest cousin I have inscribed the Van Gogh quote:
“Normality is a paved road. Comfortable to walk on, but no flowers grow on it.”
I can never give you ‘a normal life’, but I can certainly give you flowers. You may never know your biological father or grandparents but you will have three uncles and three step-aunts; their partners; two step-grandmothers and thirteen assorted cousins.
We may not do normal too well, but we’ve got family covered.