Her eyes sparkled as she took in the amusement ride with all the blinking lights and the sounds of squeals of mock terror. Standing confidently in line waiting her turn patiently, I took in her casual pose. I watched as she chatted excitedly with those around her.
A mere week earlier she had begun school. Not wanting me to take her, she trusted being taken to class by Brian. He reported back to my questioning that she had walked into class by herself, put up her backpack in the right places and went to talk with her friends.
I couldn’t take my eyes from this assured little girl at the Fair. Running from ride to ride. Willing to try things bigger and scarier with a grin that chased away moments of uncertainty in her eyes.
This is my daughter.
The daughter who used to never leave my side. The daughter who couldn’t sleep in her own bed. The daughter that clung to me in fear of anything new. The daughter that lived in a perpetual state of hesitation.
The one who had been through so much. The one whose loss of a father began long before he had died. The one so desperate to be loved and so sure she would be hurt.
As she exited the ride, I was waiting. I didn’t have to ask her if she had fun, it glowed around her face.
We began to walk to the next thing. Something bigger, scarier and completely exciting to her. Suddenly, I felt a warm hand snake into mine. Clinging to my fingers, I looked down at my daughter.
“Did you see me, Mom? Were you happy that I rode that? Were you proud?”
The look on her face said that she didn’t really need any reassurance from me. I am glad because through the lump of tears in my throat, I couldn’t have said anything to her anyways.
We walked like that for a moment. Taking in the sights. Looking for something bigger. Hand in hand. Then she pulled away and ran to get in the line of the next ride.
My hand all of a sudden felt emptier than it had ever been. I swallowed away the tears as I watched the back of her head standing in the crowd waiting to board the ride. I gazed as she shot a smile to Brian, his role as her father in her heart is solid. I let my heart soar as she grabbed the hand of her little sister and helped guide her step-brothers to the front of the line.
I know it will be like this for the rest of our lives. Watching my children move on to the next big thing. Searching all the faces to find the one that is in my heart. Delighting as I watch their eyes dance and laughing smiles at the joy of the ride. Dutifully standing at the exit to make sure they get off and moving on to the next. Feeling a little empty as they let go.
Every now and then, but never often enough, I will feel a warm hand move into mine. A dazzling smile that asks, “Did you see me, Mom? Were you proud?”
And I won’t be able to answer for the lump of tears.
…and frankly…”My heart was watching you, child.”
Categories: September Diary Entry