Today you turn 21. That’s 21 years of monumental moments and memories that make up your life as you know. 21 years of life around you unfolding in a way that has moulded and shaped you into the young adult you are today. But there’s a lifetime of memories harvested in this heart of mine too…and I hardly know which one to pick out first about how our journey’s collide.
I was just 17 when you were born (it was the day before my matric accounting final) but in my heart you held a position of so much more than just my sister’s son. You were her first born, yes; but you were also the first for us all – first grandchild, first nephew – the first of everything for all of us and it was the first time I ever experienced a new kind of unconditional love!
So much of your formative years was spent in our home (technically Naani and Naana’s, but we all lived there too. We all played a part), so many of those memories are housed in my heart and the hearts of your grandparents, uncle and aunts. For four years you were the only one. You filled the home with light and love and laughter. We all doted on you, spoiled you, showered you with love. Each one of us in our own special way.
And then the others came one after the other. Life slowly started to change. You were no longer the only one and maybe felt like you were no longer the centre of our universe too. But you took on the role of big brother and cousin with pride and ease and built special relationships with everyone in the brood. But the one thing I’m most proud of is that the tight bond we have as aunty and nephew has always remained strong. It may have evolved over time; maybe even matured – but it’s unmistaken that it’s there! It’s evident in our shared ditsy personalities…laughing at each others lame jokes…our out of key car karaoke moments…how we pick up random deep conversations in the school parking lot…our creative ideas…and it’s in so many things that I can’t even begin to expand on and explain. It’s special to me, and whether I don’t see you for a week or a month, I know that it’s just there – without cause or reason or conditions!
It’s hard to look back and not feel sentimental. 21 signals the start of your journey into adulthood. The day you get handed the metaphorical key to unlock your own destiny. But new beginnings always conjure up memories of times that have passed, and as silly as it sounds to have a whole group of people emotional about this day; it’s only because we feel like we’ve always been part of the journey too. We’ve been there from day one! We’ve rocked you to sleep, held your hand, and walked beside you through all the ups and downs, the highs and lows; and now we get to see you take flight, as you venture into this new stage of life too.
21 is just the beginning. It’s your foot in the door to your own future. It’s a time for great discovery…of who you are and who you want to be. It is the beginning of you building your very own legacy. There’s a lot of hopes and dreams that we all envisioned for you since the day you were born – to study hard and be successful in whatever you choose to do! We want you to have a GREAT life and a bright future. But futures aren’t built on the hopes and dreams of others; they are built on effort and actions and whatever steps we make in the present moment…so put effort into whatever you do in life, work hard, be kind and most importantly, always do what’s right. Your future depends on it! Every action can either be a building block or a sledgehammer, so act wisely
Lastly, I want you to know that whether you’re 21, 31, 41 – for as long as I’m around to give it, I am always here to support you and I will always love you <3