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Dearest Bethany,

It seems like it was just yesterday when the cold, sterile, black and white delivery room exploded with warmth, and color, and sound, and life – new life, your life.

On September 11, 1981 Bethany Lynelle, you burst into the world, burrowed yourself deep into my heart, and neither will ever be the same.

It was the beginning. Your first breath, a precious breath that took my breath away.

I knew that having a baby would change my life. I knew that you would be soft, and precious, and sweet. That you would be fun to hold and rock and shower with sloppy kisses. That your giggles would tickle my ears and your smiles would fill my heart. Your dimples would light up the world and poking your Pillsbury dough belly (soon-to-be six-pack abs) was more fun than it should be legal to have.

And I knew there would be work involved in being a mother. There was the sleep deprivation that has yet to be recovered from, the laundry that never ended, and the sun and moon the stars and my schedule that now gladly all revolved around you.

But somehow, I never knew, never anticipated that you would be the sweetest thing I had ever seen. I never knew that your cries would break my heart and that my every thought would include you whether we were together or apart. I never knew the all-consuming peace I would feel when you slept in my arms and the sheer terror that would fill me when your small body skipped a breath.

Beginnings are fragile that way.

In the blink of an eye, the days flew by, and you were consumed with wanting to fly. You dressed like Sacajawea and proudly rode your bike to Taylor and Robin’s all by yourself.

It seems like it was just last week when we went to horseback riding lessons, ballet class, gymnastics, and camp. You wore that cute little blue dress to your baptism and never took off your cheerleading outfit from Winter Haven Christian School.

Another blink of the eye and the driveway soon held a third car – a bright red Saturn to celebrate your sweet 16th.

The beginning had turned into the middle – a middle we thought would never end.

A few blinks later, and your bedroom was suddenly several states away at Samford University and I didn’t get to see your smiling face every day.

Have we told you how your Dad and I cried all the way home that drop-off day? Did our hearts know it was just the first in a small series of long goodbyes?

Then faster than the space shuttle rocketing into space you have blossomed into a beautiful woman. You indeed learned to fly. You accomplished so much as a young adult just entering your professional life. You earned your college degree, personal trainers license, started your own business, and finished your Master’s degree.

But better than all of the above, you were sweet, compassionate, creative, godly, thoughtful, loving, and kind. And every time I looked at you, you still took my breath away.

Blink again, and it was June 24, 2006 – another new beginning, and a life with John. What a wonderful mate God provided for you. John is handsome, fun, thoughtful, faithful, and kind. Best of all, he loved you and loves our Lord. 

And as I thought about letting go of the hand I held crossing the street to place it is his, I was comforted to know you now took his breath away.

But new beginnings require necessary endings, and as happy as we were for you to marry John, your dad and I once again cried the night away.

To say “yes” to John, for us, meant another big good-bye.

Blink once, no make that twice, and twin boys soon filled your belly and then your home. What a priceless gift they are. They were literally prayed into existence and their miracle births daily remind us of our powerful God.

It’s another new beginning – God is so good.

Just last week, you and I sat and planned their first birthday party – “It’s a Zoo with Two.” It would be full of balloons, and animals, and people and laughter, and fun.

Except now… that day won’t hold you…

At least not, here. Not that we can see.

My daughter, my heart: for you, a new and better beginning has come. An endless day, seeing Jesus face-to-face, and a sweet knowing that while our hearts are aching beyond belief, that this way, this time, this plan, is somehow, the right one.

But today, I just want to say…

I loved you from before you were born, loved you on your wedding day, loved seeing and sharing your life with your husband and twins, but for me, today, it’s the hardest good-bye.

But it’s not the final one.

I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Until then, I am eternally thankful to our God and Savior that I had the unspeakable privilege of sharing this life, these 37 precious years, with you, my daughter, my hero, my friend.

And I know that I know that I know while for me, this day holds the longest, hardest, most heart-breaking good-bye, for you, this life was just the beginning of a true life that will never end.

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