Hello sweetheart! Welcome to the outside world. We’ve been hoping and praying and waiting for you for a long time now. This letter will probably be embarrassing to you in 18 years or so, but right now Dad is overflowing with love and wants you to know about your crazy family.
You came into the world last Monday night with a full head of beautiful brown hair, olive skin, Mom’s lips, and Dad’s nose. The moment you were born and placed on Mom’s chest you lifted your head, looked up at her face, and stopped crying. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I cried tears of joy watching you two look at each other for the first time. Dad’s been crying lots lately.
Your Mom’s the toughest person I know. Seriously, you’re going to love her so much. She’s was an over-achieving even in labour, and faced 11 hours of pain with strength and courage. She locked her eyes on a clock on the wall and watched the seconds tick… no one would dare stand between her and the clock. It was hard to watch Mom hurt, but every contraction was forty-five seconds closer to meeting you. She went through labour without an epidural so she was in lots of pain, but even in the middle of everything she was still sweet. At one point Mom said to me “Babe you must be so bored. You should go to the lobby and rest for a bit.” Momma can be silly sometimes, huh?
Your name is Ashna, and it’s a very special name to us. Ashna is a combination of family names, Ashraf, your Gido (Egyptian Grandpa), and Nagy.
You’ll meet your Grandpa soon, but you won’t meet Uncle Nagy on earth. You missed him by just a few years. He was an amazing man. He was kind and warm and made everyone smile. Nagy shared his loving heart without restraint. He was a doting uncle who was loved your mom very much, and loved your dad even before they met (He read this post said I kind enough to date your Mom). The world lost a beautiful soul when Nagy passed away from cancer.
Ashraf and Nagy were brothers and the very best of friends. They were yin and yang, troublemaker and peacemaker, salty and sweet. Your name carries their relationship of love and loyalty into another generation. Even your big tough Gido wept when he heard your name and the meaning behind it.
Like your Mom’s name Richenda, Ashna is also an Indian name. In Hindi and Persian, Ashna means beloved, or devoted to love. It’s a rare name in Australia and USA — last year there was only 27 other people named Ashna in the US… Grandpa Vermeulen looked it up in the census! I’m not saying that SEO was a contributing factor to picking your name, but if you decide to be on the internet, there won’t be many other Ashna Vermeulens.
You’re an international lady already, with dual citizenship and an option for a third. All around there world you have friends and family who love you and can’t wait to cuddle you. It’s hard to think that you’ll grow up far away from some of your aunts and uncles and grandparents, and cousins… with family spread out over 7 countries, there’s a bunch of airplane rides in your future.
In a few weeks you’ll be on a plane—quietly sleeping we hope—flying across the Pacific to meet your American family. They can’t wait to meet you and dress you up in Detroit Lions gear.
It’s been 12 days since you joined us, and eight days since you came home. We’re still in awe that we get to keep you. When we first got home to our apartment we collapsed on the couch and listened to the new Macklemore song and cried: part from the lyrics, part from a lack of sleep, and part from the the overwhelming joy of bringing a perfect baby home after two years of trying.
Your middle name is Grace, as in God’s Grace. You are a divine blessing, an answer to our prayers.
You’re a good kiddo: you love and cuddles with Mom and Dad, you have an unquenchable appetite, and you hate when it’s quiet. We can’t help but wonder what you’ll be like when you get a little older. Will you be fiercely ambitious like your Mom? A competitive creative like your Dad? A story teller like your Grandpas, or sweet and nurturing like your Grandmas? Or maybe you’ll be nothing at all like us… an introvert that loves routine and being organised!? (Mom and Dad could use some help organising things around here!)
During the quiet moments your Mom and I have been talking about the hopes and dreams we have for you. No pressure of course, but here’s a few of those things. I hope you..
Love yourself. Most people, your Dad included, stumbled through life for a long time seeking validation from others. You’re good enough. You deserve love. Know that it’s impossible to accept love until you love yourself.
Question things, wrestle with big ideas, and seek truth. You don’t have to believe the things that Mom and I have chosen, or believe anything out of fear. It will take soul searching, and you’ll change your mind along the way, but but I hope you feel at peace when you close your eyes at night.
Choose kindness over popularity. You’ll be happier, and make better friends.
Choose adventure over comfort and convenience. Some of your best memories and experiences will happen outside your comfort zone.
I hope someday you love someone like I love your Mom. Falling in love, and living with someone you love, is the best. It makes happy moments happier and hard moments hurt less.
And finally, I hope you have the courage to be who you are and not what other people think you should be.
You will always be our beloved daughter, and I can’t wait to discover your personality and see what “Ashna” really means.
Your very proud and doting Dad