Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My brown-eyed girl

It was one of those perfect days that I wish I could wrap myself up in to keep me warm forever.

The sun was shining, making the Pacific Ocean sparkle like the rarest of gems. The outgoing tide revealed a bounty of treasure in the sand. Starfish, in vibrant hues of orange and purple, clung in clusters to the craggy rocks on the edge of the surf. And there, walking in the wet sand, was my daughter. Head down. Hair, in tight waves of curl, obscuring her face, periodically revealing a bright smile or a concentrated stare as she combed the sand for agates. Resting on her haunches. Delicate fingers reaching just beyond her feet for tiny rocks. Her black polished toenails looking like smooth sea pebbles resting atop her tan toes and white flip-flops.

There are signs there of the little girl, on the verge of turning 6, sitting in rapt attention watching the Lion King parade down Disneyland's Main Street. But now, at 15, it is easy to see the young woman she will become. The young woman that she has already become.

It was just about the perfect day, shared with family. Beachcombing. Playing games. Soaking up the sun on a day that had been forecast for rain. Watching a whale spouting and breeching the surface of the sea a short distance from the shoreline in front of from the large picture windows of a hillside retreat.

For years I lived a long distance from my daughter, getting caught up with her life in week-long vacations two or three times a year. I told myself that at least the time we spent was quality time. Morning til night in concentrated bursts, trying to make up for all those times I was not there. Seeing how much she had grown. Enjoying each new stage of her life and trying hard not to think about all the stages I had missed.

We drew closer and closer every visit. The "I love yous" and hugs and kisses were no longer forced and were only occasionally awkward. The became real, sincere, heartfelt and warm. Each visit just got better and better and we grew closer and closer. But as the teen years hit and took hold I started to feel that slipping away. She was carving her own personal time with her own friends out of this planned family time, as teenagers are wont to do. That's when I knew it was time -- past time -- to come home. And it was just about a year ago now that I was finally able to make that happen.

The visits have been more frequent over the last 12 months. More milestones shared. Junior high graduation. Meeting her friends. I met one boyfriend and just as I was getting accustomed to his name and his presence he was gone. Then there was a new school and new friends and another new boyfriend. Halloween and Christmas. Her birthday and other family birthdays. Family gatherings and celebrations. Helping an aunt move. Normal life stuff.

But those magic moments have been more fleeting. A second or a moment or a minute amid the rush. Looking back on my own childhood, I suppose my parents must have experience something similar and we lived under the same roof for 18 years. Life can't be all splender and bliss.

But when you aren't there for so many moments, large or small, you spend a lot of time wondering what you've missed and missing imagined wonders.

But that day, that Saturday two Saturdays ago, was one of the special days. Not because of any single big thing, but hours upon hours of little ones. And because of that brown-eyed girl with curls and a smile as warm as the May sun.

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1 comment:

Brat said...

G ~ You have the most amazing heart! I am so glad that you made the move to be with your family.

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