For You, Sweet Baby

Dear Rhett,

This is for you, sweet baby, because I want the world at your feet to be a better world.

You came into the world early, reminding us that life doesn’t always follow our plans. In fact, it rarely does. While you were being born, I was traveling in Nicaragua, stuck in a crummy hotel room with traveler’s food poisoning. I joked with your mama about how we were both having contractions, sent her all my love and words of encouragement, and then fell into a sweaty, sickly sleep. When I awoke before dawn in the sticky heat of Central America, I expected my sister to still be in labor with you. Instead, I learned that you had arrived before midnight in the quiet hours of transition, with determination and perhaps a bit of impatience. I grabbed for my glasses, clutched my cramping stomach, and shuffled into the courtyard to use the Wi-Fi in order to video call my sister (your lovely mom). She answered on the first ring. She was glowing with pride and the thrill of knowing she had just accomplished the most important thing in her life thus far; bringing you, sweet Rhett, into this world.

As I gazed upon you for the first time through a grainy video chat, I was captivated by your tiny form swaddled in a hospital blanket and resting contentedly in my sister’s arms. I stared into the softness of your peaceful face and was struck by your innocence. Just a few hours old, with an aura of freshness that is inherently fleeting. Here you were, a bundle of innocence, potential, and joy. Safe in the arms of your mom and dad. This pristineness you possess stood in stark contrast to the world around me. A world of honking buses crammed tightly with too many bodies, streets littered with plastic rubbish, dirt-smudged Nicaraguan children huffing glue out of old soda bottles to abate their hunger. A world of civil wars, political corruption, terrorism, nuclear warheads, climate change. I was overwhelmed by the thought of subjecting your little existence of innocence and purity into such a world. You deserve better. We can do better. We will do better.

This writing space is for you, sweet baby. Because I want the world at your feet to be a better world. As an environmentalist, a lover of the outdoors, and a believer in the power of nature, I am writing to inspire family, friends, and others to protect this raw, wild earth that we call home. I am writing because I believe that the majority of our world’s problems stem from environmental issues. I am writing because Nicaragua’s pollution may be more visible than ours, but America’s environmental impact is far worse. I am writing because there are small changes we can each make in our every-day lives that make a big impact. I am writing because you, my little nephew, deserve to breathe clean air, drink unpolluted water, swim in a pristine ocean, and reel in a wild fish with your dad. You deserve that feeling of quiet solitude and peace while hiking through the shade of on old-growth forest. You deserve to build a fort with your neighborhood friends in the woods behind your house, pieced together with fallen branches, dried ferns, and cool mud. I am writing for you, sweet baby, and for all of the innocents. For the little boy who offers you a smile and seat next to him on the big yellow school bus on your first day of Kindergarten. For your future cousins that will grow up romping, splashing, and swimming with you on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. For the girl with the windblown, wild hair and adventure in her eyes that you will one day fall in love with and ask to marry you on a crisp autumn day. Because you all deserve more than what we have given you.

This is for you, sweet baby, because I want the world at your feet to be a better world.

Love always,

Aunt Brookey


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