When my husband and my youngest grandchild, Jordana, was born this past May, her three sisters, who had saved just about everything from their kids, made shopping for Jordana during the next several years completely unnecessary. (Plus, admittedly, I also had saved quite a bit of Jordana's mom's favorite things!)
Our youngest daughter had not had an easy pregnancy, and I knew that letters from friends would mean a great deal to her. So I asked good friends, rather than a gift, to share in writing what they had learned from parenting -- nothing from so called "experts!" -- only what their own lives have shown to be true and meaningful. When she received this request, former Philly DA Lynne Abraham told me that since she is not a parent, she didn't think she had anything to write. (Full discloser: While Lynne was DA, she referred several domestic violence first offender cases to me, where no one died, believing this to be a wiser and less-costly direction than prison.)
My response to Lynne was that she understood the real world and I was sure what she could write would offer a great deal. Lynne decided to write to Jordana herself. She wrote hurriedly, honestly, and from her heart, never intending her words to be circulated.
Lynne is known in Philadelphia as an exceedingly tough woman and prosecutor. Although I have known her for many years, I have never seen the part of her revealed in her letter to my granddaughter, Jordana.
In our world today it often feels as if madness prevails -- as if the beasts have left their cages, and are in charge -- showing no common sense or clear thinking -- and surely no compassion. My family has found Lynne's letter to be so rich, hopeful, kind, and relevant that (with her permission) I fixed a couple typos, and want to share it with you. It follows.
Dear, darling Jordana:
When you were born, a new star took its place in the firmaments of heaven where it twinkles there for all to see. Your big brother also had a new star placed there when he was born. The heavens rejoiced at your arrival, and so did your Mom, your Dad, your brother, your entire family. Everyone was wondering why you were taking so long to get here, but were relieved that all was well when you finally made your appearance.
Jordana, your family will take such good care of you. They will shower you with love and affection, and they will cuddle you and tell you how beautiful and special you are. They will teach you all the things, large and small, that will help you to grow up to be an intelligent, curious, studious, strong, moral, and well adjusted child. They will tell you more, such as how important it is to have a strong moral character, and that being honest, loyal, patient, cheerful, and steadfast are essential qualities as you navigate your way through life. In short, Mom and Dad will help you mature and become a compassionate, thoughtful, and gifted human being. They will provide you with essential tools to help you achieve your maximum human potential, and attain your goals, but then you will set your own sails and your very own course.
Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Ah, but life will not always be so idyllic, and the seas will not always be calm nor the voyage prosperous. The world is full of problems and there are people who lurk about and create or stir up bad things. Believe it or not, there are people who hate each other just because one looks different than the other, or one speaks a language different than the other, or because one worships in one way, instead of another. Some people are jealous of what others have that they seem to lack. There are wide differences between those who have much, and those who have little. Many people go hungry every day, while others waste vast quantities of food. Some will try to force women to live as if it were the Fourteenth Century, instead of the 21st Century. Women are discriminated against, enslaved, and mutilated. There are many places where little girls cannot ever be educated and will never attain their true potential. Climate change is hurting us as well as our environment, and our entire planet is being systematically plundered of its natural treasures -- our plants, animals, fish and minerals, just so a few can become rich.
"Well that doesn't sound so great! Is all lost?" you might ask? No, not at all! "How so?" you may inquire. Well, because, while things are aren't all good, they aren't all bad, either. We admit neither you nor your brother are at fault for the things that existed when you were born, and we adults are trying harder and harder every day to make things better and set things right for you and everyone else. We owe it to you as a sacred obligation to smooth the road of life for you. We must try to leave a world better than we found it, and so will you. As you set upon the seas of life, you will need all of the gifts and strengths you posses to help carry on the tasks at hand. Many things can get much better, I promise. However, it won't be easy or quick. Lots, and lots of your friends who are strong, and purposeful, like you, must stand up as one and say, "No more!"
You, dear Jordana, I predict will take your rightful place as one of the next generation of great thinkers and good people. People will know of your courage, your strength, and your fervent desire to be one of those who set about to repair the world. It's called in Hebrew "Tikkun Olam." See, the beautiful thing about mankind is that we can make a difference but, even better, we can become the agents of changes for all mankind. With you as one of our great future leaders you can not only "wish to save the world," you can save it.
"That's too tall an order!" you might say. Well, we deliberately set the bar high for you, I'll admit. But you are capable of everything, no matter how difficult the challenge, no matter how many the obstacles, or rugged the terrain. Jordana, the world is waiting for you.