Today marks the day that my oldest girl turns ten. Double digits. Pre-puberty. 'Tween. I can't even begin to imagine where that time went. It was a mere blur... a speck on my radar.
One minute I was pulsating through the pain of her ridiculously fast delivery, at the tail end of which my obstetrician beckoned me to open my eyes during a particularly strenuous contraction, and give him my hands. And when he positioned my outstretched fingers underneath my birthing daughter's tiny armpits, allowing me to gently grasp her and deliver her up onto my stomach myself, all of the pain simultaneously washed away, and the floodgates of joy took its place.
With this child, the feeling of joy has remained. She is, without a doubt, an incredibly special being. Her kindness is almost limitless, and her love for humanity is to be revered. During the insanity of 9/11, and all of the days of sorrow, confusion, and pain which followed, my husband and I (like almost civilized human beings on this planet) were practically glued to the television set, reaching out for even the tiniest smidge of hope that another lost person may be found; that some semblance of happiness or normalcy could be unearthed from all that rubble. My daughter was almost 3-years-old, then. Such a tiny thing, that one would think she couldn't possibly fathom the preposterous scope of the trauma that was coming into our living room every evening.
One day, shortly after the Twin Towers exploded throughout New York City, my teeny bit of a babe came to me and said, "Mama, I want to be a firefighter when I grow up, so I can help people like those firefighters did." Her conviction was so strong that year that, when we came across a uniformed firefighter one day at the grocery store, she walked up to him, tugged on his pant leg, and said, "Thank you." (To which he scooped her up, and with tears welling up in his eyes, he said she was more than welcome.) She also wanted to be a firefighter for Halloween, and I was proud to dress her up as one that October.
To this day, she still expresses interest...those memories firmly etched in her mind. When she isn't talking about fighting fires, she says she'd like to be a veterinarian, so she can make animals well. She sobbed uncontrollably over every lost fish, hermit crab, and bug that she'd snag in her bug catcher. She still talks about all of her "pets", recalling them with the fondness and love that only a person with the kindest of hearts can feel.
On her birthday four years ago, one of the earth's worst disasters hit most of the land masses that border the Indian Ocean, when, as a result of an enormous aftershock from a giant underground earthquake, the tsunami that followed rose up in 100 foot waves and devastated several countries, killing over 200,000 people.
Again, my compassionate, empathetic child watched the news....and cried. When she heard one of the news reporters state that all of the children survivors had nothing... not even any toys to play with.... she announced that she would like to donate ALL of her new Christmas and birthday toys to those children, because she was lucky, and had enough old toys to play with.
I believe this child is truly a gift from God. Two years before her birth, when I was convinced that, in my heart, I could never love more than one child, and was content to have only him, I dreamed of this little girl with wavy, sunstreaked hair, and the most amazing ice blue eyes I'd ever seen. We were at a park I'd never seen before, and I was lounging in the grass, calling out to her. She came running over the crest of a small hill, wearing a grape-colored, short-sleeved t-shirt with little puffs on the sleeves and the tiniest of bows on the neck, underneath a pair of faded denim Osh b'Gosh overalls.
She had in her hands a bright red ball, and as she ran toward me, giggling the entire way, I called out to her: "Come bring the ball to me!", and spoke to her by name. It was then I knew that she was out there for me. That God was trying to let me know, in his Infinite way, that this little girl was waiting to be delivered. This gift.
And, on the day after His son's birth, he brought my gift to me. Ten years later, I'm still feeling awfully blessed to have her in my life.