Last night we curled in her bed and read together, and I watched her fingers trace the outline of Maid Marion’s wedding dress. Her eyes lit up and then turned dreamy, and I knew where her mind had gone–to her own white dress and flowers and dreams of weddings and husbands and families. She loves to imagine that day.
I shook back tears and mentally screamed, “Must. stop. time!”
We read Dumbo together, Bear curling in with us, and she finger traced the Mommy and baby together and cried when they were separated. “That’s how I feel when I’m away from you, Mommy. Well, some of the time. I really like to be at school, too. I guess I’m torn in two.”
I nodded, knowing what she meant, because this growing up is exactly what I want her to be doing, learning her independence, learning to step forward on her own, but inside I am torn in two, screaming, “Must. stop. time.”
“Will you snuggle me?” Her big brown eyes looked even bigger as she gazed up at me. We snuggled together under her covers and prayed for her days and the year to come. And it was my turn to trace, only this time it was tracing the outline of her forehead and cheeks with my finger just as I had done when she was a baby. “This feels good…” her words slurred as she whispered in her not-yet-but-almost-sleep. And she nestled into my shoulder and sighed, and my mind screamed, “Must. stop. time!”
Somehow that spot under my chin has grown with her. I’m thankful for that… this molding and growing and changing and learning… I’m molding with her and we’re growing and changing and learning together.
As she drifted off to sleep, I eased myself out from underneath her and kissed her forehead, “Good night, my love.” She opened her eyes for a moment and murmured, “I love you.” Then she tucked her hand under her chin and slipped back into dreamland, and I screamed inside, “Must. stop. time!”
This morning around 6:00 I heard them, the pitter patter of little feet as she came into our room, crawling into bed with us, barely awake, shivering in the pre-dawn darkness. She found the nook under my chin and sighed, and I whispered, “Happy birthday, baby.” She half-sighed, “Thank you, Mommy.” And I lay next to her and silently screamed for time to stop.
I woke her later to get ready for school and in our morning rush, we sang our happy birthdays and thanked God for our little Bella-girl. I ran up the steps to call her to breakfast and found her stroking her long, red curls, watching herself in the mirror, and I stopped and caught my breath, and I think this time I actually said, “Must. stop. time!” She turned and grinned at me, “But Mommy, I have to grow older, so we can grow older together.”
Oh, that girl!
She is a gift.
And as I wrap presents and prepare her birthday meal and buy donuts (she wants donuts instead of cupcakes this year), it is I who am receiving the gift.
The gift of her life.
It is easy for me to sit and be sad, to long for time to stop, to grieve over so much lost time with her these past 5 years of battle. It is hard to accept that I cannot remember parts of her life, the milestones, the cute phrases, the stories of toddlerhood, the time missed with her while others cared for her. Every year on her birthday, I grieve those losses.
But the gains. Oh, the gains far outweigh those losses.
What have a gained?
I have gained a rainbow in my cloud. She is happy and content and enthusiastic for life.
I am certain God knew when He formed her that I needed her little joyful personality to bolster my spirit. She is full of dreams and spunk, and is a friend to all, weeping when others weep and rejoicing when others rejoice. This girl with a heart of gold.
And though I cry inwardly for time to stop, I know… this is best, this growing and loving and learning and changing.
This is the beauty of time.
Because for us time is measured in heartbeats of love, and we have all the time in the world.
Happy birthday, my dear girl. This world received a beautiful gift the day you were born.
Leave a Reply