I remember the first time I saw my daughter’s face. I remember that season of my life. The sterile smell of a cheap hospital room, the glow from hospital-grade night lights, the hum of machinery running along the wire. And in that world, two liquid brown eyes. We were all alone. Nothing but my two boys ever came that close again to living; nothing ever will.
Just over two months have gone by since I found out I was to be a “Gran Kitty.” The name was carefully chosen by the mommy, and myself, in reverence to my government name. My grandbaby was cast for under a pear tree last September, just as the last fruit hit the ground and a chill was beginning in Alabama. Real magic, done right. The earth vibrated so beautifully under our fingers–not an uncommon moment with my beloved student, my dedicated Priestess-in-Training. Ever loyal, ever faithful to her path, she has watched others come and go and stood (sometimes weeping) firm to her oath to our Tribe. This was her moment.
But this one, here in this post, is mine.
Letter to my grandchild:
Your mother well knew the trouble you would be. She foresaw it all. Your stubbornness, your tenacity, your rebellion. And she chose it all. You, Gangani Babe, will drive us all to a reckoning of your witchy will. And I cannot wait.
You should know that your momma has given up everything: caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and even bees. (Your momma was in beekeeping class when she found out. Your Gran Kitty put a moratorium on bees until your birth.) You should know this because one day you will turn to her and scream “you don’t love me!” and you will be wrong. She loves you more than herbology, more than baby kittens, more than her reputation. She has steadied herself for the unbearable disappointment from her upbringing, community gossip and your formidable teen years. She says good morning to you before her morning milk and sings to you before she slips into sleep after long shifts at work. You, my dear child, are already loved beyond reason.
And you shall be magic. We have argued/agreed/compromised through half of your life in our planning. (Just so you know: at Gran Kitty’s, there will be chocolate cake for breakfast and fairy wings. I won that one fairly easily.) You will be raised “witch”: growing and drying herbs as soon as your chubby fingers can grasp them, drumming around fires, spinning webs in twilight and worshipping with the morning sun. And, my darling, there are some things you will find in the world you have chosen to grace:
Our faith is old, but rarely tolerated by the majority. This will make public school problematic (for *them* as well as you), and mommy and I have plans for that, too. We want to spare you from those sad souls who would call you evil, but we know better. Therefore, we shall invest into your life a thick and tribal pride of the legends from which you came. You will know your history, sweetie. Never let anyone make you feel shame for understanding energy, for nurturing magic as your divine inheritance or for revering the Earth and its creatures as sacred.
I’ve told you how Mommy feels–the rest is hers to reveal. Let me me tell you how I feel about you, these short months before your arrival?
When you are older, someone may say that you are not my blood. Let’s review how to answer that, baby. You see, I wasn’t blood for half my line. Yup. Gran Kitty was half mutt! But I had a Grandma who made up for everything. She saw my flaws, my muck and mire, and stroked my hair: you are wild, baby. You look like Aunt L.: Cherokee, big spirit, wile chile. Folks like us need lovin’ that deep: it sinks in where the rips and tears gape and make a salve, babe. And this is how I intend to love you.
Remember this: you are right. I do not have to love you. You are right. I can call this not my problem. You are right. Our blood is not the same. But you will be wrong if you think that any of that mattered the day I cast for you, too.
We are Cherokee, my sweet. We adopt. The bond is impenetrable.
You and I are the same. We both have a grandmother who loved us beyond all damn walking sense. We will dry mugwort together, raise strawberries, fall asleep under family quilts after a night of legends and lemon balm tea. I will be your ancestor: and that is mine to decide, my dear. And if anyone ever tells you otherwise: turn to your cousin, Ian, and ask him if DNA mattered. Ask him if he remembers a life before this family, without love and forever, and see what he says. (Also, ask him what happened to those who desecrated that love. Your momma was smarter than all of those muggles. Fertile as a bunny, that one.) This is it, baby. I choose you. You choose me. And if anything gets in the way . . .
Grand Kitty has a really sharp hatchet.
Now, you will inherit enemies. They ain’t got nothing on you, chile. They gnaw and gnash at every sparkly, buttery thing we grow: and it does them no good. Don’t you pay no nevermind to that noise. It’s a hindrance, like yellow jackets and fire ants–but that’s all. Like your brother J, you are to be born into this wondrous witch family and jealousy is a natural condition of your birth. Besides: we will prepare you for that mess. In time, you will find that–while the buzz will disturb your Tuesdays–nothing takes away that feeling of throwing your fingers in the air with a family of witches and the trees as your audience. Nothing ever shines brightly without drawing the attention of some butthead with a bucket of water. (But don’t worry, sugar. We don’t melt. We grow.)
And finally, you should know something else. You should know that silly Gran Kitty had a baby growing in her own belly in 2012 and that the strain of age and asshattery (don’t use that word until Momma says it’s okay) took her back to the stars. That night, I had to grow up. I had to understand my impending status as Crone. And as far as I’m concerned:
Your birth is proof that my job isn’t over. Yet. You are already making Gran a better person, a better witch and a better friend. We all fall from grace, hon. Gran has done it nice and messy-like over the years. I have suffered my landslide.
But there you are, growing in Mommy’s belly. Waiting for us all to climb again.
(And don’t worry about dancing in the moonlight, honey. “Nudity is optional, as you well know.”)
I cannot wait to meet you. I’ll be the one with funny hair, a sailor’s mouth and a wooden spoon. Whether you like it or not, that country witch standing there that day, crying and laughing, is your . . .
Note to my readers:
We also lost our sweet little girl, Riley, in 2009. Unimaginably, it came to our attention that a small group of witches within our community made a “poppet” of sorts with my identifiers and stuck needles in the belly of said poppet. Hopefully, this was just a rumor (although, never smelled like one) and is not an issue we should worry with this time around. However: I beseech all like-minded witches everywhere, in the olden custom, to cast protection for this pregnancy against malicious attack. Thank you. And Blessed Be. Seba