I remember the smell of you and falling asleep in your arms, the vibration of your voice in your chest lulling me to sleep. It was the warmest, safest feeling in the world. When I lived far away from you (whether in New York, Italy, or China) you would send me letters that smelled of your favorite perfume. That scent would nearly always bring me to tears and fill me with an indescribable homesickness.
You have always been a fun person to be with. I have many great memories of us getting into trouble together. There was that that time we ventured down a steep embankment to swim in a lake and had to be rescued by Papi when we realized that the slope was too slippery with loose shale and stones to climb up again. He had to toss us a rope and pull us up. And there was that time we hiked the finca in Colombia, only to be chased down the hill by that raging bull. Or the time we went for a little stroll in the snowy mountains of New Mexico and almost couldn't get back to the car because the trail was icy and we had to climb uphill. You have always inspired me to take risks in my life, to "follow my bliss," and to be brave. It's because of your encouragement that I was able to go to Italy for a year when I was 15, to join the Peace Corps at 25, and to travel solo in foreign countries.
I inherited your curiosity, love of nature, and an eagerness to explore this world and its mysteries. We have enjoyed many adventures hiking and camping and taking long walks together, admiring the birds or the sunset or the way the light hit the leaves on a certain tree.
You have a hard time with the whole aging thing. I know I can't fully understand it until I'm there myself. But I want you to know that you truly are beautiful. And wise. And brave. You really have made a difference in the life of each person who has been fortunate enough to know you. I love you so much. Thank you for being my mom.
Monica (your baby monkey)