“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” ― Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - screenplay
You came into this world in a warm afternoon at the end of September.
I first saw you when you were a few days old and I couldn’t help but thinking how perfect you were–resting and smiling peacefully in your mom’s arms, ten tiny toes, ten tiny fingers. You won’t remember the day you were born, and you won’t remember the few years that will follow, but trust me, you changed a lot of lives with your arrival.
You may look like a lot of other babies to the rest of the world, but to your parents you are an angel who came here to bring great hope and happiness, to be loved and to give love in return. You made me an aunt, and my husband an uncle. From this day forth, you will be our wish for better days.
You have a chance to make the world a better place, but please don’t feel under pressure. You don’t have to save the world---just follow your path knowing that we are all close to you and ready to hold your hands through the most difficult times. For now, just keep in mind you are a lucky baby---you have been born into a wonderful family.
My dearest Mattia, this world is not an easy one. You will learn a lot, and it won’t ever get simpler. But keep in mind that this world is an amazing place, a place you will discover day by day, through other people’s eyes, through your travels. Try not to focus on shadows and darkness, and find joy in the hardest times because, believe it or not, small or big issues happen, but there’s a chance you will be laughing about them later. I can’t promise you won’t ever experience adversity, but the most important part is to be comfortable in your own skin, and never apologize for who you are.
Growing up can be painful at times, and we all tend to close little doors around our hearts to protect ourselves from sorrow and disappointment. Find the strength inside yourself, do not expect people around you to be perfect, because they are just human beings like you. Some people will be good to share a deep friendship with, some others will be good for laughter and a beer, others will disappoint you, and some will make you sad. Not everyone knows how to give love in return, for some hearts are simply frozen or unsophisticated or plain, but you will learn to take from people only what they can give you. Do not expect too much from everyone. Only, remember that you are a boy, a boy who will soon become a man, and when your heart is broken don’t feel ashamed if you want to cry. Just try to always love what you see in the mirror, and allow that person to smile back at you at least once a day.
Feel confident you will know when to open your heart to others. There are thousands of people you will meet, and all of them can teach you something---good or bad. But you will learn small lessons from everyone, so keep your eyes and mind open to them. Always carry an imaginary pen with you, and before the end of the day list who taught you something precious, or something you simply don’t want to forget. In a while, you will find an entire book of stories in your hands, and realize that the most incredible lessons come from unexpected people, whom you’ll meet in the most unexpected places.
You don’t know this yet, so let me tell you, just in case you need me in the future---your Auntie lives pretty much in an imaginary world, made of dreams, stories written by others, and small gems, each one symbolizing a good friend, or a faraway place, or flashes of images belonging to other times and places. Whenever you feel curious to jump into the rabbit hole with me, please raise your hand and I’ll hold it through the small path. I guarantee we will make it back.
Thank you for being with us, and thank you for making me an aunt.