Another year passes.
And our Princess is ten years old.
And so I ask what every parent asks, “Where does the time go?”
Last year I shared the story of her arrival in this wonderful world she loves so much. Tonight I’m thinking of another birthday, when she turned seven three years ago.
My Daddy had been fighting his Giant, lymphoma, for almost three years. On our Princess’ birthday we took some lunch and snacks over to Mama and Daddy’s house to have a party and spend the day with them. The Fella was not home so we had no reason to rush back.
Daddy had not been doing well the few days before the 16th. And on the day itself I don’t know that he was awake or alert at all. Despite that we had a lovely and fairly quiet day with Mama, who staged her traditional “treasure hunt” for finding the birthday gift. Our girl was thrilled as she went from room to room, sounding out the words in the clues that Mama had so carefully printed in extra large and all capital letters. And when she made it to the big room and looked inside the side table cabinet, what she saw had her squealing and putting her hands over her mouth in joy. A Barbie Jeep! And it was pink. Perfect. Maemae had outdone herself in the midst of all that was falling apart in our world.
Against what I wanted to do, which was stay there and never leave, I decided to head home, feed my crew some supper, feed the critters, and then head back to spend the night with Mama and Daddy. Our precious Hospice nursefriend had told us the day before that it probably wouldn’t be much longer.
As we went in the living room where Daddy’s hospital bed was, he was still resting, seemingly asleep, but I wanted the children to tell him “‘bye” as we usually did. We walked in, and our Princess was beaming from ear to ear. “Oh Cap! Thank you thank you thank you for the Barbie jeep!!!!! I absolutely LOVE it. It’s so awesome and my dolls fit in it and I love sitting them in it and driving it around. Oh Cap it’s just awesome! Thank you so much. This has been the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!”
As she told her Cap all about the day and how much she loved him and appreciated his thoughtfulness, tears came to my eyes. I am not worthy of this child, this ray of sunshine in our lives, who finds so much joy in just about everything and almost everywhere. She’s not perfect, I won’t kid anyone about that–just this evening she was scrapping with her brother *sigh*, but when it comes to giving thanks in all things and loving on folks, somehow I think she might just be a step or two ahead of me. I know the Creator must be really pleased with this one, and I am flabbergasted that I was chosen to be her Mama. Again, not worthy.
Little did any of us know as she stood there, with light shining from her so brightly I could all but see the glow, that her Cap, my Daddy, had less than a day left here with us. And still, through it all, my girl was shining. Sad and heartbroken but still such a light for us in those dark days.
This birthday weekend has been a busy one and filled with things I hoped would bring her joy. And each time I was not disappointed. Whether it was a surprise trip for doll shopping or having tea or her big sister coming home to celebrate, she was so enthusiastic and joyful about it all. And when we sat around the fire (very possibly my new favorite place, y’all) this evening with folks she loves so much, she couldn’t stop smiling. After a rousing game of monkey in the middle with Cuz’n, Shaker, and her siblings, with Miss Sophie in the middle, she said, “My face hurts from smiling so much.”
Oh baby. I hope your face hurts a lot in this life.
I came across these words a couple of days ago, and they make me think of our Princess. Again, I know she’s not perfect, but what she does have is infectious. And Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson was speaking to my child’s heart, as she is doing just that.
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Because tonight, just before heading to bed, she hugged me again, and said, “Oh Mama, this has been the best birthday ever!” And I have no doubt in my mind that she meant every word of that.
Tonight I’m thankful for folks who make their lives interruptible to make sure our girl had a happy day. I’m thankful for fire pits and hot dogs and roasting sticks and family traditions. For ten-year old girls, especially this one, who still love dolls, I’m very grateful. For big sisters and little brothers who are too excited to wait to give their gifts and for girls not quite so little anymore who want to decorate their own cakes, my heart beats in a thankful tune. Most of all, for the gift of this precious child whose name aptly means “happy or joyful,” I give a heartfelt and humble thanks. Thank you for this gift, this precious child, who opens my eyes to what gratitude really looks like. She reminds me so much of her Maemae when it comes to that.
Wishing you all a day of wonderful surprises and joy-filled moments. Still celebrating…..
Love to all.