Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Babygirl, Bears, & Big Boots: D's Story, So Far

"If ever there is a tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, & smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you."~ A.A. Milne, Winnie The Pooh

     Age 4 was a traumatic year for me, losing my doting Paw Paw, post-surgery, & my preschool-age best pal, Susie, to Reye's Syndrome.  Likewise, the 4th year of my daughter, whom I affectionately call "babygirl", was also marred & marked by tragedy. For D, it wasn't a milestone moment of loss, but the beginning of a period of losing so many things a child should never have to kiss goodbye---security, family ties, innocence, a place to be safe, a place to belong, to be loved in, without condition, cherished, wanted, chosen---HOME. It took another 4 years to find that, with her 2 brothers in tow, but, at last, they did. In the words of her favorite book, Don Freeman's children's classic, Corduroy

"This must be home", he said, "I know I've always wanted a home.".

     And so, at 8, she became my girl. My one & only girl. Sure, I'd relinquish her, for bits of time---Girl Scout Spring Break Camp, volleyball & basketball trips, VBS, summer sleepaway camp, as camper (later, counselor), sometime babysitter, & the like. Still, we had time for coffee & cupcakes, ugliest animal print hunts at Goodwill, prom-time plans, scary movies, true crime shows, Madea, college football Saturdays, Audrey Hepburn flicks, playing with pets, decorating together---so, so much. Then, suddenly, a decade had passed. My pigtail (okay, "dookie braid") princess was off to college preview.  Brothers left home, Mama, Daddy-o, & daughter D fell in love with both the college program, & the city that hosts it.

"When you see someone putting on their Big Boots, you can be pretty sure an ADVENTURE is going to happen."
~ A.A. Milne, Winnie The Pooh

    This tough track to adulthood was not for the faint at heart. Intentionally hard, the demands were greater than those made by coaches or parents, before, but D rose to the challenge, & learned to don her desert tan army boots with pride, gear up, "embrace the suck", power through early a.m. P.T.. Most of all, she learned to tap the passion in her soul to love & serve others; to face the fear, & do it, anyway, because her mission is too important not to.  

"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them, sometimes."
~ A.A. Milne, Winnie The Pooh 

     I knew, early on, that D was an introvert, like her Daddy...like I was...once. Given her druthers, she'd be content to hang back, & let others be the ones who approach, test waters, learn names first. However, once babygirl warms to the scene, she is friendly, sunny, funny, radiant---much like her Daddy, but in other ways, all her own. She will make her way, even when it feels awkward, & she will touch lives on her GRAND ADVENTURE. In turn, she, too, will be touched, & changed by the experience. I am witnessing a young woman crossing the border into adulthood, from adolescence. Like her mother, before her, she is at times, timid, stepping onward gingerly, momentarily unsure. Yet, when she glances back at those who've prepared her for such a time as this, & the experiences that have culminated in not just a flight from New York to Moscow, but from girlhood to...beyond girlish things...I hope she sees all of us, missing her, already, but wistfully, glad to see her go. Safe passage, babygirl, & may God go with you. LOVE ALWAYS, MAMA

"How lucky I am to have something...that makes saying goodbye so hard."~ A.A. Milne, Winnie The Pooh

Click Here: Corduroy by Don Freeman Videobook