She came to me as a contradiction: 10 days early,  27 hours for the birth. I was impatient, I was ready. A full day came and went. Finally, slow and thoughtful, she came to me. From me. It was an initial indication of her personality: fashionably late and quietly determined – a wanderer who makes an appearance when she’s damn well ready. 

Nights when the moon was full and bright, I’d sit by her crib and stare at my quiet, beautiful girl. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. The tiny features I had made, now a little human with her own thoughts and dreams. She would wake up and take me in with her wide-eyed stare, as if to say, it’s you and I know – we’re in this together.

I’d whisper to her about all the things the world had to offer. I’d tell her stories about the wonderful women who came before her. When she was only a little over a month old, we traveled to visit my great-grandmother – both were overjoyed in one another’s presence. 

Years flew by, my Salma grew from a radiant infant to a curious toddler, dancing and singing for hours to her stuffed animals, to me, to her aunts, to her grandparents, to Barney (he of purple dinosaur fame). Every and any audience. She organized her toys considerately, lovingly. She grew older still, the years flying by in a bolt: Salma in school, going happily into her first day without a glance backward. Salma saying hello to every animal she met. Salma cuddling into bed with me and softly dreaming as I watched her, thinking about all the times the glowing light of the moon had witnessed my love for her. 

I wear a pearl necklace that reminds me of Salma – it’s her birthstone, and  the gentle luminosity of the pearls recalls the moon that  kept us company starting all these years ago, from that first night I watched her in the crib.

Time marched on – 13 years to be exact – and I'm in awe of the person she’s become (though I secretly suspect she’s been this way since birth): confident and smart, loving and loved, a dreamer who sees the good in everyone, a romantic who loves music and fashion. 

In many ways we’re opposites, but that really just means we complement one another perfectly. We’re each other's missing piece. It’s not an exaggeration to say that she’s the best person I know, and she makes me better just by knowing her.  

Happy birthday, my sweet Salma. I love you more than anything.

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