It is late when I hear the tiptoe of little feet, though they are not so little as they once were. I pull my book down to peer over and see her big brown eyes not quite brimming with tears, but I can tell she is close.
“I just…” she heaves, trying not to cry, Digger-Dog clutched close. “I just feel like I need your protection.”
I smile and pull my striped coverlet back patting next to me aching for her fear. She crawls in next to me and buries her head into my shoulder. I can smell her shampoo, a gentle floral, as I smooth tangles from her red curls.
We talk for a while–life and tears and friendship and imagination–until she falls peacefully asleep, until my Brian comes to join us and carries her snuggled into his chest to her own loft again.
Oh, y’all, this girl. She is growing so much, yet parts of her are still so young and beautifully innocent.
“Mom,” she giggles from the back seat, “Look at the trees. They are waltzing in the wind. You know how I know it’s a waltz? Because it’s slow and gentle and beautiful.” We watch the trees for a while, quiet together, and I gaze at her in the rearview mirror whenever I can, her eyes enraptured by the dance before us, absent-mindedly fingering her new pierced ears. Yes. Pierced ears.
Oh, y’all, this girl. She is growing up so much, but her eyes still see the beauty in everything, untainted by the hardness of this world.
She skips beside me as we walk toward the store, excited and chattering about the earrings she will choose. As we draw near, her hand slips quickly into mine and her body presses close. “Do you think it will hurt?” her eyes fill with anxiety. We talk about what it will be like and she grows quiet. She chooses earrings that look like diamonds for her birthstone, and she bravely climbs up on the chair. The surprise on her face when the first earring pierces is almost violent. “Oh! That hurt!” and before she can fully register the pain, the second one is pierced and it’s over and she’s laughing at her reflection in the mirror and choosing a second pair–Eiffel towers because a visit to Paris one day is on her bucket list.
Oh, y’all, this girl. She is growing up so much and she makes me laugh with her spunk and inspiration.
“Are you excited to grow up?” I ask her, not wanting to acknowledge that my children are all in double-digits now. How is she ten?
“Mmmmm…” she pauses, looking up at me and gently shakes her head. “Not really,” she admits. “When you grow up, you lose your imagination.” Tears spring to my eyes. Have I taught her this? Have I become so lifeless with this daily cancer battle that my weariness has tarnished her vision? “I don’t want to stop, Mom. I want to imagine and dress up and build my fairy gardens forever.”
Oh, sweet girl. We talk about life and love and imagining, and I tell her she can always use her imagination. It just might look different. But for now… she can keep her dressing up and her fairy gardens and her beautiful innocence and maybe when she’s older she can write children’s books full of fairies and dressing up and dreams.
Oh, y’all, this girl. She is growing up so much and I want to shield her from the pain of this world. She’s tasted so much already.
I hear her humming quietly as we place toppings on pizzas and laugh about dividing up the green peppers when she keeps crunching on them. Her pitch is lovely and her voice quietly begins to sing… “Your grace abounds in deepest waters, your sovereign hand will be my guide…” I love listening to her and I tell her so. She smiles slightly, then says firmly, “It’s truth, Mom. It’s truth.” Then she pops another green pepper in her mouth and skips off to work on cleaning her room, and I hear her singing again above me.
Oh, y’all, this girl. She is growing up so much and she warms my heart with her faith and trust in so many ways.
I am certain God knew when He formed her that I needed her joyful personality and fresh imagination to bolster my spirit. She is full of dreams and spunk, and is a friend to all, weeping when others weep and rejoicing when others rejoice. This girl with a heart of gold.
This girl is growing up so much. She turned ten a week ago, and though I cry inwardly for time to stop, I know… this is best, this growing and loving and learning and changing.
This is the beauty of time.
Because for us time is measured in heartbeats of love, and we have all the time in the world.
This girl, y’all, oh this girl. The world was given a beautiful gift when she was born.