Dear Daphne

January 17, 1954

My dearest Daphne,
I am watching you again sleep peacefully in your crib, my darling child. It is snowing today, but I promise to keep you warm for life.

This letter is my eighth to you, a maternal journal to comfort you when I am long gone and you have progeny of your own.

Tonight, I will tell you the story of your name. Always my loving partner, your father allowed me the enduring courtesy of choosing your identity, an honor I appreciate.

I have named you after a Greek goddess, a nature nymph who prays when she has trouble with a man. Apollo pursues her, and she prays fervently, becoming a laurel tree to protect her body. Her transformation keeps her from heartbreak, too, I suspect.

The young goddess Daphne was strong and kind and expectant to her version of God. Turning into a tree to escape the choices of a misbehaving man was clearly not Daphne’s idea. But she did not need to know best, my child. She simply needed to trust.

For millenia (sic), Daphne has graced the heads of athletic victors with laurel branches, has stood in relief indelibly on temples and public arenas, and has left us a narrative of self-protected innocence, of faith, and of mercy.

This Greek goddess now lives on in your identity, dear child. I love you, my Daphne.

Always your loving mother,
Dotty Scanlon

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