My Dearest Jessa,

Happy 21st Birthday! This day marks a significant milestone in your life, and I couldn’t be prouder to be your parent.

As I look back on the past 21 years, my heart is filled with a beautiful blend of nostalgia and excitement. It seems like just yesterday when you were a wide-eyed young girl, full of dreams and laughter. Among the countless cherished memories we’ve created together, one stands out prominently—a memory I’m certain you hold dear as well.

It was the night you watched “The Giving Tree.” You were so young then, but the emotions it stirred within you were profound. As the story unfolded, you began to cry, and, out of concern, I hurried into your room, ready to yell at. However, before I could utter a word, you stopped me in my tracks when you explained why you were crying. This was a moment that touched my heart deeply. I held you close, attempting to convey that the tree’s love was boundless, and that love often means giving without expecting anything in return. This touching moment has remained etched in my memory (and on my ribs), and it’s a testament to your innate depth of understanding. Looking back, I wish I could have given you even more during those early years.

I couldn’t help but share this touching moment with my co-workers, for your compassion and sensitivity left an indelible mark on me. I shared the story of our shared reading experience and the powerful connection it created between us. It was truly remarkable to witness how our simple experience resonated with them, as many, even the most stoic among them, shed tears upon hearing the story.

This moment stands as a testament to your kindness, empathy, and your unique ability to find beauty in life’s simplest things. It underscores your capacity to connect with the world on a profound level.

I believe many parents, at some point, grapple with the feeling that they’ve fallen short in their roles. Some might argue that if you believe you’ve done everything perfectly as a parent, you may have missed out on crucial aspects of the journey. Parenthood is a path riddled with inevitable missteps.

The reason I’m sharing these thoughts is that if I had one wish, only one, it would be to rewind time and provide you with the upbringing that I wholeheartedly believe you deserve.

Right from the start, I’ve been consistently amazed by your remarkable ability to articulate your thoughts and feelings, even as a young child. Your capacity to express yourself has always been an incredible gift, and it’s something I’ve deeply admired.

Never lose your sense of awe and wonder, for the world will continue to be a place of fascination and marvel. Additionally, learn to accept that not everyone will always understand you, much like in Plato’s cave. It’s perfectly okay to be misunderstood as long as you’re steadfast in your belief in doing what’s right.

As you step into this new chapter of your life, I hope you carry the invaluable lessons from “The Giving Tree” with you. Remember the significance of giving and the profound beauty of compassion, even in a world that sometimes takes more than it gives. Your generous spirit is one of your most extraordinary qualities, and I am confident it will continue to touch the lives of those around you.

Jessa, you are an exceptionally unique individual, and I consider myself incredibly blessed to be your parent. As you embark on your 21st year, I eagerly anticipate witnessing the incredible person you will continue to become. Your future shines brightly, and I have no doubt you will leave a lasting, positive mark on the world.

Happy birthday, my dear Jessa. May your 21st year be filled with love, adventure, and the pursuit of all your dreams.

With all my love,