My Darling Kate,

My dear sweetheart. I can't believe what a wonderful addition you are to our family. In the five short months since your arrival, you've brought so much laughter into our lives and love into our hearts. Your smile brightens my day and almost makes me want to pinch myself, wondering if you and everything else in my life is a reality. So many times in my life I wished for you and this kind of happiness, but was too scared, too caught up in thinking that it was a pipe dream to really fight for it. For that my dear Kate, I am so sorry. But in spite of all of the false starts, I have been blessed, beyond my wildest dreams. God has blessed our home with you. I don't know why, but I most certainly know how.

I know you are too young to understand what I'm about to say. Even thinking about it right now, I don't believe it myself. But I have to tell you, just as your Grandma Lena helped me see, that the "how" is love. I guessing that you will probably be in your early twenties when you read this. Old enough to know that your Grandma and I never met. And yet, because of her, I found courage, forgiveness and faith just when I needed each of them most. Because of her example and love, I find myself sitting here today writing this letter to you. I know that it's crazy to be thinking about passing on what I've learned to a five month old, but someday this will all make sense. I hope that my experiences in falling in love with your father won't come in handy, but just in case, I hope you learn from my mistakes so that you don't have to go through the heartache and loneliness that I did.

The road to love with your father wasn't easy. I'm certain by know you will have heard the stories from Sam and Jonathan and your Grandma Mona about all that they went through in the eight years it took to get us together. There were potholes, toll fees and spike strips all over it. Of course, I'm over-exaggerating, but looking back at what we had to get threw to get from point A to point B can be overwhelming. But without going into every detail, let me just say that I'd do it all again if I had to. Because at the end was you.

I love your father. I did for years without even realizing it. And once I did, it was so hard to tell him because of our friendship. He was my anchor, my counselor, my cohort in crime and I was so afraid, for so long, that taking the next step would change that. That if things didn't work out, I would lose him and everything he was to me. Eventually, my love for him and my longing for you were too overwhelming and I finally shared my feelings. To my surprise, he'd felt the same way for probably as long and hadn't shared his feelings for the same reasons. For a time, we were happy and we started planning a future together. But old insecurities and habits got in the way. Amazingly, fate wouldn't let us part that easily. Before we knew it, we were back together, married and expecting you within just three short months. It seems like a lifetime ago.

My darling Kate, I hope I haven't scared you or hampered your vision of what our courtship was like. There was, has always been, a kind of beauty to our love. Right from the moment your father knocked on my door. It was like some how he was knocking on the door to my heart. At the time I didn't know it. But who truly does when it's staring you right in the face? Life, with all it distractions, has a way of blinding you, making you miss things that you might have noticed, taking for granted things that bring you the most joy. But through it all, I want you to know that I've learned that true love survives. Through all the heartache, the pettiness, the jobs, the disappointments, financial problems, when you truly put your heart in to letting someone love you, all that stuff doesn't matter at all. The love is what you have left when everything else is gone. If you don't have that, you don't have anything. So promise me, my Bella Kate, take the love with you? Will you do that?

I'm looking at you right now, asleep in your crib. Your tiny cheeks always seem to be red like strawberries. They almost seem to match your hair. You're daddy already has plans to hire a body guard when you turn twelve. He's so protective. The only boys he lets near you are Jonathan and Billy. And even Billy, has to walk a fine line with your father. He made the mistake of telling your dad the first time he saw you, that he was going to marry you. Ever since then your dad's been watching him like a hawk every time he comes over. Don't worry, your father will get over it. Eventually. I hope.

Please know, Kate, that I love you. No matter what, my love will be here. I feel like we've just met and yet, somehow like I've always known you. I hope we can always be this close.

Well, my Pretty Princess, your Daddy's calling me down to dinner. But before I go, one more time.

I Love You,

Mom

P.S. And to my dear future son-in-law, please be patient with your sweet wife. Stubbornness seems to run in the family. (Just kidding, Sweetheart.)

Angela placed the cap back on the pen and neatly folded the sheets of stationery. She got up from the rocking chair that was sitting next to Kate's crib and leaned over the crib's side to kiss her sweet daughter's forehead. As she straightened up, she felt a firm but gentle set of arms embrace her from behind. A deep voice whispered in her ear.

"Well, Mrs. Micelli. Are you ready for dinner?"

"Yes, sir," she whisper back. "I just have to do two things first."

"What's that?"

"First." She slowly turned and wrapped her arms behind his neck and slowly leaned in for a kiss. As usual, her husband's lips met hers before they were halfway to their goal.

"What's the second thing?" He said as his lips continued to skirt hers.

"I've got to put something away." She replied as she lead him, by the hand, out of the baby's room. She entered the master bedroom and knelt down in front of an old cedar chest. Lifting the lid, she reached up and pulled out a faded envelope that was held onto the inside of the chest's top by some ribbons. "My Dear Matty" was written on the outside. She placed her newly written letter in with the three original ones and place it back in lid.

"What's that?" Tony asked catching a glimpse of the aged envelope.

"Just some letters from my Mother-in-law."

"What?" Tony asked with some well deserved confusion.

Not paying attention, Angela grabbed his arm again and asked, "What's for dinner? I'm starving."