This is my favorite picture of Bekah.  Don’t ask me why, it just is.  We collected over 500 photos of her over the years for her birthday celebration, each one better than the next, but I still love this one best.

Maybe it’s because it shows how at an early age her personality was written all over her face.  There she is sitting in a bucket outside of the cottage we rented on Bruce Beach.  The bucket is supposed to be for washing sandy feet so it wouldn’t get tracked inside.  But to Bekah it was a place to play… who cared about the sand left by so many feet, that just made it more interesting.

As we celebrate her 40th birthday, I celebrate my second daughter, born three weeks early and basically attached to me for the first 6 months of her life.  I’m not kidding, she would not let me put her down.  I wore her in a snuggly during the day and slept with her on my chest at night.  I think she needed to hear my heart.  And sometimes I think she still does.  What mother doesn’t love that?

Being the middle child meant finding her place between two sisters. It wasn’t always easy running interference between them, but the rule was that sisters stick together – and in the end it stuck. Bekah, Emily and Anna are best friends even though they drive each other nuts sometimes.

Bekah walked at nine months and said her first words shortly thereafter.  I’m pretty sure she hasn’t stopped talking since.  If you’ve ever spent time with her you know there is no shortage of interesting conversation.  We’ve had so many “good talks” over the years – conversations about friendship, romances, parenthood, the meaning of life, ideas for her books, her love for her family and, of course, her next travel plans.

Her adventures have taken her to New York, Boston, Chicago, and finally to Denver where she and Kyle have found a home for their family and a place where they can raise their girls with plenty of fresh air and sunshine.  Heck, we liked it so much, we followed them to the mountains.

I am lucky to have been there to watch as she took her first steps as a writer.  I remember sitting on a deck, not unlike the one in the picture, when she turned to me and said, “Mom, I have a book inside me and it has to get out.”  Little did I know that this was the beginning of a writing career that continues today.  And once again, I have seen that little girl sitting in a bucket make something interesting out of an idea.  I am so proud of her tenacity, her imagination, and her transformation into an author.  There is nothing better than getting a phone call from Bekah wanting to pick my brain.  Sometimes it’s about the plot, sometimes a character, or sometimes it’s just to listen to an idea that’s percolating.

Bekah has always been a people magnet and when she married Kyle they quadrupled that strength.  Watching them collect friends and open their lives to them has truly been a joy and, lucky for us, we are often included as part of the gang.  How many parents get to do that?

Then there is the travel. Kyle remains my favorite travel partner, but Bekah is a close second.  She would probably be first but she made me jump off a rock in Scotland.  I injured my knee and I couldn’t hike the next day, so I’m still trying to get over that. If you don’t believe me, ask our guide Gary. He will back me up.

Our trips with the Cranes and their girls have been some of the best travel times of my life:  Spring breaks in the Southwest, the infamous The Ladies Trip – Yurts vs. Disneyland, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany… so many memories, so much Whisky, and more laughter than one person deserves.

Bekah and Kyle’s favorite Avett Brother’s song is “Salvation” has become the family anthem.  Anna gave them a painting that includes some of the lyrics and it hangs in Bekah and Kyle’s living room.  It always makes me tear up because the words are so appropriate.

“We came for salvation. We came for family. We came for all that’s good, that’s how we’ll walk away.  We came to break the bad. We came to cheer the sad. We came to leave behind the world a better place.”

I recently had a friend tell me that Bekah is effervescent.  Maybe that’s what I like about that photo.  I can literally see her energy bubbling up.  When she is in the room, as my mom used to say, there is never a dull moment.

Happy Birthday, Bekah! We love you. You clearly leave the world a better place.

Bekah is 40!