I love the way she smiles, sassy, at me . . . . .grins ear-wide and heart-full and tosses her blond head and darts away.
The way she marches into her fear, shoulders back and eyes sea-green as always . . . . she speaks in front of the whole school, quietly strong, and I marvel.
I love the memories we share, the countries we have seen and the hurt we have touched and how it has shaped us.
I love to see her with her friends, now calm and reassuring, now giggly and inquisitive. Always learning, always curious. With that mouth hanging half-open as she catches every conversation and the intonations and the body language too. My all-there girl who reads people like she reads books and who learns from anything and everyone because it’s her gift.
She’s 11 now . . . .11 years and 21 days and I’m still catching my breath, still stopping my pounding heart, still flashing my hungry eyes after her slender growing-up girlhood. It’s going by so fast and I am desperate to drink each moment. Desperate for her gaze, for her tears on my chest and her cool hand slipped comfortably in mine and her late-night conversations.
We talk about friends and popularity and crushes. And I remember when it was all about the baby growing in my tummy and her baby dolls. I smile. I am proudly grateful to be trusted with her secrets. And I know the ledge I stand on, know that my heart must be a safe place; that my eyes must hold all the love I was given for her and that my voice must not share advice but bear encouragement, joy and inspiration.
I can be her muse.
But only if I stand her with me, facing out to the great wide world and it’s Maker. To beauty and it’s great power to overcome evil. To the amazing wondrousness of life.
She points me to it each day. Teaches me so much, more than I may every be able to impart to her. She shows me what it means to have courage. To let your heart be wide open to the world. Each time she speaks of “when we go back” (to Africa) I marvel at her ability to trust our future when there is no sight of land. And each time she dreams of a life even fuller of privilege and opportunity I am reminded not to narrow my focus to far. We must. dream. big. and full.
She dances with the elegance of a nymph; she writes with the beauty of a seer. She glimpses heaven in the corners and across the rooms. She pours herself into her 1956 Milano violin and it somehow, perfectly, matches her. She exudes fashion and regality. And yet she can be every bit as ornery and gross as any 5th grader should. She delights.
This is my princess. The blond-haired pixie who has always turned heads and who now turns hearts.
I’m determined not to miss a minute. How blessed I am.