C is for cake. You like to eat it, I like to bake. In your impatience to dig in, you, La Niña, my chief taster, stick a spoon into the still unmixed batter and taste it before I can stop you. Your mouth twists into a grimace. "Yuck, disgusting," you cry.
And yet the same ingredients mixed together in the right proportion and baked at the right temperature yield the gooey goodness you love.
Life's like that. Often you're tempted to give in to despair, unaware that the most insipid mess has the potential to be transformed into confection heaven. All you need is Courage, a very valuable C to stock in your survival kit.
In school, my history books led me to believe that courage was the preserve of those who didn't flinch in battle. My years on earth have taught me that it takes as much courage to live. To work hard and break the piggy bank to pay the bills even as the debts mount. To get out of the comfort of your quilt every morning and face a harsh day. To struggle against the increasing odds. To tackle demons that won't stay down.
When I was little, I used to think my father, your Papa, was the most courageous man in the world. He was the only one who didn't scream and jump up on the sofa or the table when a cockroach or lizard was sighted.
It never occurred to me that there might have been some things he was afraid of too. Things that he faced in spite of his fears. Things that he pretended not to fear.
Today I realise the extent of his courage when I am faced with situations in which I am afraid. When the lights go off suddenly, and you cry out of fear, I quail too. Aren't grownups allowed to be afraid of the dark? I steel my voice and gather you around. And then we laugh and sing loudly and slightly off-key. Calming the tremors with song.
Your Papa's courage has taught me that when you and I are afraid of the same things, I'm the one that must make 'big eyes' at the thing that scares us all.
As you grow through life, you will learn that there are many different shades of courage. The courage it takes to stand up to bullies, to admit one's mistakes and say sorry, to admit defeat and make a fresh start, to admit fear and face scorn, to attempt something new and difficult. At some time or the other, you may be called upon to display one of these shades. When that happens, show them you have the courage you need, even if you don't. They'll never be able to call your bluff.
My wish for you is that you may be of stout Courage and do the thing that needs to be done, no matter how wild and fierce may be the tempest raging in your heart. When life shreds you apart, I wish that you may have the courage to rest your tired bones awhile and then stitch all the cracks together.
Stitching is another useful skill to have in your survival kit. Your Grandma taught me that.
You too, El Niño. Don't tell me you're a boy. I already know that.
Hasta Mañana. Tomorrow I'll tell you about one of D most important things your Papa ever taught me.