Monday, July 28, 2008
Today you are seven-years-old. I will take you to the mall to get your ears pierced because that is what you asked for - because that is how old I was when I cringed from the heat of an ear piercing gun in the shaking hands of a teenager working the counter at a chain boutique selling lip gloss and cheapy jewelry. I can still feel the burn and exhilaration.
You like it when I tell and re-tell you about the morning when I had cramping, consistent and steady cramping that I ignored because it was early, one month too early for your arrival. You laugh when I explain how five hours later, I was rocking you in our living room while the home birth nurse filled out some paperwork and daddy and I tried to process the shock of your unexpected existence. I was tired but elated. I was perplexed, but relieved that it was over- my gosh, the labor was over before I 'd even had time to dread it or fear for our safety. No one had been prepared; nothing had been organized, and it didn't matter.
When you were tiny, I'd try to imagine what you'd look like when you got older; I wondered if I'd recognize your face with its skin pulled taut against your cheeks once so fleshy and doughy and irresistibly pinchable. I scrutinized your features, your hands, and knees, and toes hoping to find on your pudgy body a physical trait undeniably passed down from me, your beaming mother. Like the roses in our garden, you bloomed in an instant, so seemingly over night I was surprised that I hadn't captured with my very own eyes your pants getting shorter or your toes creeping out over the edge of your summer sandals. You've got your adventurous and ambitious spirit all set on tearing through the next decade knowing freedom and independence lie beyond it - but I'm not nearly ready for that, so please be patient.
I was timid and you are brazen. I was a follower, you're a leader. I had frizzy auburn curls whereas your own locks are tame and smooth and the color of coffee with cream. We are opposites in many ways, you and I, and yet at times I swear I can read your thoughts or predict with perfect accuracy the next words that will exit your mouth. You are the sweetest, most affectionate, most stubborn little girl I've ever adored with all my heart. I know now, finally, contemplating you, just exactly how much my own parents loved me. Because you can't understand, you simply cannot imagine how intense is the connection between a mom and her daughter until you yourself are consumed by the enormity of such a miracle. From now until forever I will swell, deflate, shine, sink, rise on the coattails of your own joys and sorrows. "Will you please come and help me when I'm about to have my own baby?" you inquired of me just a couple of days ago. "Nothing," I assured you, "and I mean absolutely nothing could stop me."
We were talking about heaven, you and your brothers and I, and what we'd do first upon arriving. Elijah thought he'd ask some questions of his fiery patron saint; Ben thought he'd look around for the rest of us. But you sweetheart, cleared your throat and adjusted your facial expression until it represented appropriately the downright seriousness of your intentions. "I," you announced slowly, dramatically,"would find Jesus and wash His feet...with my hair." And we all had to concede that that was officially the best answer. I smiled in my soul but not outwardly lest you mistook my utter enjoyment for disbelief, because I honestly think that that is exactly what you would do and I respect you for it.
I hope, my dear, that you retain your passion and sensitivity, and I pray that adolescence will not rob you of your sprightly unselfconsciousness. May our Lord God override my own desires for a smooth and easy future and lead you, via whatever paths He deems best, toward salvation. In the meantime, let me bask in your creativeness and constant presence. Let me hold you, delight in you, and ask you for forgiveness when I forget to tune out the peripherals and really listen. On this day, seven-years-ago, we were formally introduced and life's been better, rosier, more spectacular ever since. You're a gift to us all, Priscilla.