August 31, 1995

Dear Hank,

I want you to know that you are our beloved little boy. We have loved you since we first heard that you had come into being. As your grandmother, I want you to know some things about your mother and the family that she was born into. Your mother was born into a family already made, the fourth of four: a brother and two sisters. They are many years older than she.

She was beautiful from the day of her birth and she was born with a twinkle in her eye that is still there. She has always been true to herself, never settling for the status quo, always searching for her own truth and upholding it against all odds when she found it. She married your Daddy because she loved him with all her heart, and he loved her the same way. I really want you to know that, because love is the most important thing in all the world. Your Mommy and Daddy planned and prayed for your birth, for your conception. And God has blessed them with you.

There are times when the world will be hard. You are soon going to leave the warmth of your Mommy’s womb, the place where you are safe and warm, and you will be thrust into a new world. It will be different and strange at first, but your Mommy and Daddy will hold you close, when you cry they will be there to calm your tears. I wish for you not all things sweet and easy, but I wish for you the strength to persevere when that is called for. I want you to be free in the world, to learn your own freedom. To take time to play, to watch the little hummingbird, the rabbit in our backyard.

I wish for you never a harsh, angry voice or yelling but hearts abounding with love for you. I want you to know that you are connected to every living thing, because we all breathe with the same breath of life. I wish for you a love for everything that has life; your Mother, your daddy, me, my kitties Bo and Pete, the birds that sing each morning, the chipmunks that dig tunnels in my backyard. The hummingbirds that sip the sweet juice from my feeders. I wish for you the sweetness of life. To learn that it is there, even in the midst of what seems to be turmoil and confusion. I wish for your freedom and strength and love. I want you to see the light in my kitties’ eyes, your understanding. I want you to see in all living things that spark that is in your Mommy’s eyes . Most of all I want you to learn love. 

–this letter was written by my mom, Mary Wilmer, to my son James Henry Barker approximately one month before he was born.