Twenty feet ahead of me, untethered and independent. Completely oblivious to any dangers lurking around a corner. All momentary unpleasantness forgotten — as well as everyone around her.
She is smiling. Maybe even humming. Caught up in the simple joy of life and this happy moment.
My heart swells with inexpressable joy when I see her caught up in this secret world…and I don’t feel joy easily these days. She is so beautiful…so free. Unencumbered with the worldly cares that hold me down. Focused only on wherever she’s headed, some unknown adventure that will reveal itself if she only hurries to get there. Because walking would take too long and she must know.
It is my motherly duty to call her back at times; to remind her to be aware of what is going on around her. Don’t bump into other adults. Watch out for that tree root. Don’t step on your sister’s foot. Don’t get too far ahead.
So many rules. So many “dont’s”. So many “no’s”.
While I joke that she’s going to be a great lawyer someday — looking for every loophole, negotiating every request, and arguing a way around our “no’s” — I also find myself so fiercely proud of her determination and enthusiasm for life. She doesn’t take disappointment lightly. She feels everything deeply. And tries to do something about it even when it risks trouble.
That’s the kind of personality that doesn’t back down. That doesn’t let others shut them in a box. That seeks joy even when there’s difficulty and unquiet around her. That forges her own way against the norm. That doesn’t take “no”.
That finds the cure to cancer.
But for now, she’s simply a seven-year-old. Skipping off to the next destination in search of fun. Oblivious to what lies around and ahead as she lives in the simple happiness of childhood.
And while I protect her and her brief, sweet innocence, she reminds me that life should be more than worry, sadness and work. That adulthood shouldn’t always be…adulthood. That adventure and excitement can still lurk around the corner. That I should let loose once in awhile and be the little girl I once was.