Monday, September 20, 2010

Portrait of a Future Lady as a Young Girl

I had to pull together photos of Abby for her birthday celebration at school—one from her birth and for each birthday thereafter.  With the help of a teacher, she will glue them to a timeline with her own narration of the photos’ events to share with her classmates as she holds a small globe and walks around the “sun”—a small, lit candle—once for each year she celebrates.  There will be three revolutions this year, and for me, each trip represents universes of meaning and love and growth.

There are so many pictures to choose from, and the looking, the remembering, is, in itself, a gift.  Captured by camera, these moments--small, simple, seemingly insignificant moments--bring back the fullness of that time, of the person in that time, and have the power to make me ache with gratitude and wistfulness and satisfaction all at once. 

As an infant, she lies sleeping on a blanket, her small body requiring the support, the structure, of my arms and hands to do anything more; her baby head leans to one side, revealing soft wisps of dark hair; her tiny hands curl into fists as though grasping invisible fingers—perhaps they do. 

As a one-year old, she sits unaided in the fall leaves, rapt, holding one of these papery crackles between two fingers and studying, with a trace of uncertainty, the remnant’s meaning. 

At two, she stands in the knee-high grass and peeks at me through strands of golden hair aglow in the fall sun; her face hints at laughter, at joy; she is radiant.  

At nearly three, she half runs, half skips through the trees, her face a wide, open smile, her long hair bouncing behind her.  She plays, and in the playing, lives.

With every year, with every day, she grows and changes, becomes ever less dependent upon my arms and hands and ever more dependent upon her own.  Her own two feet propel her through a world of wonder, her own fingers grasp at discovery.  Though I am convinced that everywhere her foot falls and her hands search, she encounters traces of an invisible God, she does this now of her own volition with her own spirit at the helm.  I stand by and watch in awe at the mysteries of the universe unfolding before her. 

I feel both nostalgia and anticipation.  As an infant, she felt like a present that would unwrap herself, revealing more and more of who she is with time.  I know three years of her now.  I miss the baby body that fit softly in the security of my arms.  I marvel that her once-baby arms now wrap themselves around me for love rather than dependency. I wait expectantly to see how her grown arms will embrace the wide world.  All in the same breath.
Autonomy is its own miracle, more staggering than even sunshine and fallen leaves, for in giving birth to choice, this self-determination gives birth to the possibility of real love.  And so my nostalgia is tempered by joy in the tenderness she now freely shares.    

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