In a riot of color, in the middle of a playground in the late afternoon sun, she walks.
Where she once skipped and played and swang and climbed, she walks instead with an elegance and grace all her own, loose-limbed and lanky, carrying that growing body, teetering not on a wooden board with her brother on the other end - instead she teeters on the brink of womanhood.
She's tall now. Almost as tall as me. I look at that figure and remember that it once was mine, and at this age, I can only hope for a close proximity to it.
And I'm OK with that. The years have flown and I've gone from maiden to mother and now I have my occasional days where I look and feel like a crone. I stand strong in my well-earned wisdom, honed in the folly of my youthful indiscretions, knowing myself and knowing what I want for her.
Knowing most of all, that I want her to want things for herself, and not settle for what I want or her father wants or her friends want or her someday boyfriend wants.
Even as I watch her walk away, my arms yearn to reach.And even as I reach, she resolutely keeps walking, charting her own course, insisting that I back off and just let her be the person that she is in this moment.
And oh, how she seizes that moment. She's fierce in a way I never was, and that's breathtaking and thrilling and more than occasionally frustrating and annoying. She gives as good as she gets, and she's far too clever in so many ways.
But still my little girl, a voice says plaintively. Still my little girl.
Still the one whose heartaches have the power to make me cry myself to sleep. Still the one I have to check on if I get up in the night. Still the one I can stand and watch sleeping for what seems like hours, never tiring of the rise and fall of her shoulders under the covers, smoothing her hair back and wondering, as always, how something so beautiful could have possibly come from me.
Remembering with a quiet wistfulness the many nights when I carried her inside me, rubbing her through my skin, talking to her and knowing that she'd always, always be a part of me.
She has my hair, they say. My eyes. My sense of humor. My kindness. But of course she does, I think. She has all of me. All that's best and then some. And in return, I get to soak in all that she is that I always wished I could be more of. Strong. Resourceful. Resilient. Creative. Smart. A thousand adjectives come to mind and even if spent a week typing them here, they'd never give you a picture of all that she is.
Or all she's yet to become.
She walks in beauty, inhabits it, breathes it in and breathes it out, as the world around her revolves in a riot of color and meaning and rebirth.
And on she goes, looking forward, sure-footed and ready.
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