And she? How is her life? is it joyous and hopeful and exciting? One hopes that in God's mercy she is remembering the evenings snuggled on the bed reading, the impromptu trips in the car, the friends invited over for bonfires. One hopes that the mother's stress, the oft disappointments of things we have to say no to, the recurring frustrations as we work out chores and habits in an ever-changing family, will be gently erased off the essence of her memories.
She is awe in a capsule. Her ability to see another's trouble, to quickly repent, and her love for her sisters and brothers... they are extraordinary. Her insight into people and sensitivity to their intentions and desires... make her a constantly interesting person to talk to. I like her AND I love her. Her love for Shakespeare and chemistry--yes, even at ten--they make me stand back and attempt to take a breath and hold on tight because she's a tangled ponytail in my house one day, but will be changing the boundaries of the earth tomorrow. She will yet teach me more than I know. My ceiling is her floor.
Last night, as I was walking through this old house...
I go from the front to the back. Checking on the party of girls who have come to gather to celebrate her life. In our home. There they are, gathered around. Friends. They giggle, playing the yucky jelly bean game and filling these halls that were empty for three years with the untainted laughter of youth. That youth that thinks it will live forever. Or knows it will. Outside, the embers of the bonfire are glowing their last warm glimmers. It starts to sprinkle. A cool, Virginia spring rain, giving magic food to the budding irises. Walking through the kitchen, the sink is clean, because I have wiped it. Because it is mine, and there were all those times when we didn't have a sink. I remember washing dishes in bath tubs, and in borrowed rooms. I love my dominion in the kitchen. I pass under the festive birthday flags and down the hall, to peek in on the baby in the large nursery with walls of blue. The lights of the star lamp are scattered all over the ceiling and walls, casting over the room a glow that sings its own kind of lullaby. Her dreams will be joyous and unmarred. She sleeps in the crib we have used for the last four babies and brought with us from across the country. Her sheets smell fresh because I washed them today. I remember too, years without washers and dryers. Laundry is my joy. I pass into the back room, where Thomas has fallen asleep with the middle and the elder little. They are pressing into him one on each side. The four year old has her hand across his chest, she knows she takes care of us all. He is completely blissful and breathing like a steady tide. This is what he always wanted. Redemption. I pray with them and kiss them goodnight. As I turn away, I can't recognize the odd feeling I have, here, on these old wood floors, and suddenly I know it: it's the feeling called being home.
Even in these tattered walls, paint half done, insulation so-so... Even in this unremarkable suburb, where things are close by, but communion with nature is further away than my childish soul would like to remember... we have come home.
And Sparrow? Here you are, growing into a lady before our eyes. You are beautiful. Thank you for always being more than willing to help. I trust you for many things, and you are through and through a delightful and trustworthy girl. You are learning so well. You are loving so well. Your intentions are gold. I love your fun-loving ways, your humor, how we can share and appreciate stories together. I love to watch your eyes, pure and innocent. You have such a strong sense of duty, and I want to tell you that I appreciate that so much. It is going to grow into good friendships, good wifehood, and good motherhood (if you choose to get married of course!).Your heart is being held by God, and I pray you know that fact more deeply than anything else you know about yourself. Your purpose is to be yourself in God! Can't wait to see what you do this next year! So excited we get to be here with you, watching you!
This past year, let's think about some of the fun stuff we did:
-Lived with the Stroupes for two months
-Visited the Mahnkens a LOT of times
-Went to Busch Gardens in the summer
-Celebrated Cow Appreciation Day
-Moved into our new house
-Went to Maymont in the fall
-Went to Ikea with Miss Genie
-Went to the Smithsonian in Washington DC with Miss Genie
-Sang at the church talent show
-Had our first Christmas at our own home
-Planted flowers in our own yard (you got snapdragons!)
-Planted strawberries and blueberries
-Read "Twelfth Night" together
-Got a King-sized bed and had many reading evenings on it!