Letter to Camille: 105 Months

105 MonthsHappy 105 months my sweet girl! My nature girl. My animal lover.

We took a trip north to Asheville this month for spring break and a reunion with the Hensley family. You’d been excited about this trip for ages, because you so wanted to see buddy Sam and boyfriend (ahem) Will. You and Will have called each other boyfriend/girlfriend for years. I keep wondering when one of you will outgrow this elementary school romance and want to pair off with someone local instead. But so far, the two of you seem satisfied with seeing each other once a year, and always pick up right where you left off.

Camille and Will

And you’d think Sam might feel left out in this trio, right? But it just seems to work – the three of you pal around perfectly. 


This year we rented a cottage on a real, working farm nestled into the Blue Ridge mountains. The pack of enormous, muddy, friendly farm dogs were constant sources of fun for you all. You named them and hugged them and fretted over them and even tried to ride them like horses. You loved swinging on the trapeze by the creek, or walking the hanging bridges to an amazing treehouse complex.

The TreehousesThe Trapeze Swing

The farm was a place of great freedom and liberation, as we felt free to let you all wander. Off you’d go up the gravel paths together, in search of the family of peacocks or to visit the horse. We wouldn’t know exactly where you were or when you were coming back, but we knew you all were ok. Better than ok, we knew you were having a wonderful time.

The Gravel RoadOff to Find the Peacocks

Our trip encompassed the Easter holiday, and the location was idyllic for an Easter egg hunt. We hid more than 100 eggs in the tall grasses and shrubs, and enjoyed watching you three dash about for the prizes.

On the HuntFound one!

So, about Easter … 
The night before Easter, we were all lounging in the living room of the cottage, talking about Easter traditions. When I was growing up, the Easter bunny would send me on a scavenger hunt for my basket. I’d wake to find a post-it note on my nightstand or headboard, and I’d follow the clues upstairs and downstairs until finally finding my basket of goodies in the dryer, the pantry, or some other covert place. 
Without thinking, I said aloud, “I wonder why I’ve never done that with you, Camille? Maybe I should.”
To which your Daddy replied, “Don’t you mean the EASTER BUNNY should do that?”
Whoops! We both looked at you for your reaction. I knew you were already suspicious about the whole Easter bunny thing, but you’d never asked us for the truth. Had I just outed myself as the Easter Bunny?
“Yeah mom,” you said with a sly smile, “Don’t kill the magic.”
Ha! So it appears you do know who’s behind your Easter morning basket, but you want to keep playing the game. Sure thing love – we’ll keep playing!
It’s always hard to say good-bye to these great friends, but at least our trip wasn’t over when we left the Hensleys and the farm. Our next stop was Tennessee and Nana and Granddaddy, and a visit to the aquarium.

JellyfishWatching the FishSurrounded!

The animals were fascinating, and each time one swam in your direction, you were sure it was coming to visit you. You’ve always felt a connection with nearly every animal you see.
Dead or alive.
Last week, I was standing in our driveway before church when I saw a dead baby possum near the garage. I knew you’d want the chance to see him up close, and he didn’t look grotesque yet, so I went back in the house and told you what I’d found. You quickly slipped on shoes and ran out to see for yourself. 
“Oh!” you squealed. “He is sooooooo cute!”
I told you repeatedly not to touch him, and you didn’t. But you knelt down close, looked into his vacant eyes and said, “I feel so sorry for him! Mama, can we bury him in the backyard?”
Oh good grief. It was a Sunday morning and we were all in our church clothes. We were not about to go digging a hole in the backyard for a possum who was not a pet, and I told you as much. 
“So what are you going to do with him?” you asked. A pause. “You’re not going to just put him in the trash, are you?!?”
Which of course, was the plan. Your Daddy and I tried to reason with you. We couldn’t bury him in the backyard –
what if the dog dug him up? Maybe we could just put him in the alley and let vultures eat him – circle of life and all?
But the more we tried to persuade you, the more heartbroken you were, until you finally collapsed in your Daddy’s arms with uncontrollable sobs. 
Honey, you get it honestly. I remember as a child looking at a dead fly that had been killed in my house. The more I looked at it and contemplated its short life, the more upset I felt. So I had a funeral for it. I found a container, dug a hole with a spoon and buried it.
So I was secretly relieved when your Daddy sighed and said, “What if we bury it in the alley after church. Will that make you feel better?”
And so you did. After digging the hole and covering up the possum, your Daddy asked if you wanted to say some words over the animal’s grave, but you didn’t. So he summed it up with, “Hey possum. We didn’t know you, but we hope you were nice.”
My sweet girl with a tender heart – that sensitive side is going to cause you some pain throughout your life. But it’s also going to allow you to experience great love and joy, so I’m glad it’s part of you.
I love you so much.

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