By Kathleen Billings
My Dearest Gemma Marie,
The day has finally come to load our van and start the long drive to your new home away from home. Today is the beginning of an incredible new journey for you as you enter into the next season of your life. Your father and I also embark on a new journey of letting go as we now enter into the season of daily life without you physically around. I have a million memories from the past eighteen years of raising you racing through my mind. I cannot reflect on them too long before tears well up in my eyes. Tears for how much I am going to miss our late night talks, tears thinking how I will miss hearing your beautiful singing voice echo through our home, tears knowing how much your siblings will long to have another dance party in the kitchen – or make another funny video -and I cannot do either quite the way you do, tears remembering the moment I first held you and wiped tears from your beautiful green eyes, tears picturing your father teach you how to ride a bike and then drive a car, tears reflecting on the day you were baptized into the Faith and then the day you made your Confirmation and claimed the Faith as your own. I have a limitless supply of memories to cherish and keep close to my heart as you leave the nest and begin to soar to new heights.
You are a smart young lady with a solid faith. My hope is that the next four years will afford you many opportunities to stimulate your mind and grow your spiritual muscles. As you leave the safety of shore and set out on this new quest that will help form you into the woman God created you to be, never lose sight of the compass you have in Christ. He will lead you to new destinations, stretch you in ways you never knew possible, and open your eyes in wonder. May your life continue to be a prism that reflects Our Lord in all you do as you seek His will for your life and follow the path He sets before you.
I pray intellectually – your mind is challenged and expanded as your knowledge increases, spiritually -your heart is enlarged, your virtues cultivated and your wisdom grows, physically – God keeps you healthy and safe, and emotionally – our Blessed Mother wraps you in her motherly arms when you feel homesick or alone.
I am proud of the fine young woman you have grown into and confident your faith will guide you through your college years and be the voice of reason when life presents you with difficult choices and various avenues to pursue. As your form new friendships, make new connections, and discover your unique niche, remember – you were made for MISSION. God has a specific purpose and plan for your life – enjoy the adventure as you discover both a little more each day. Soak up all that He wants to bless and challenge you with during this next season of your life.
Your grandmother had a plaque hanging on her living room wall when I was growing up that read, “You give a child two things – you give them roots and you give them wings.” Gemma, your roots are deep and strong, now go fly honey!
I love you,
About the author:
Kathleen Billings is married to her best friend, a mother of five beautiful blessings and three more souls in Heaven. She has a BA in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Together with her husband, Troy, they began and direct a vibrant parish based Marriage Ministry called BAM – Building Amazing Marriages. Kathleen has a personal blog entitled seasonsoftheheartandhome.com where she writes about living her faith, in every season, as a wife and mother amidst the ordinary moments each day that God wants to make extraordinary. She is a regular blogger on marriage for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Website and is also a contributing author to the book “Amazing Grace for Mothers.” Kathleen has been an active Catholic speaker for the past 20 years – speaking at days of recollection, retreats for women, retreats for married couples, evenings of reflection and women’s groups.