|nicki, puppy and i christmas 1987|
I write to a little girl with imagination busting out of her, lying under the Christmas tree making the Nutcracker talk to the Kitty who is hiding from the Carousel Horse. A rainbow-light glow falls on her freckled nose, shining in eyes inquiringly blue. No one knows she is not in bed. No one suspects that she has snuck downstairs to, surrounded by Christmas magic, tell stories to herself.
She is the youngest and often feels alone. She wants the big kids to like her, to notice her, to tell stories with her. But they never do. They have homework and friends, and long legs that even when she runs as fast as she can, she cannot keep up with. So she makes her own friends and plays her own games. There's Puppy of course and an ever-rotating host of Barbies. There is Anne (with an 'e') and Mandy and Jasmine and Belle. And in the sand-box she is using the hose that she didn't ask to use to make a swimming pool. When it is full, she will go swimming and she will probably be naked.
She doesn't know it yet, but soon she will know that mommies and daddies don't always live together. That sometimes brothers move out and don't seem like your brother anymore. Sometimes sisters choose to leave life and you'll never know why. And sometimes those who should protect you, won't. She will have questions and tears and secrets that only Puppy will ever hear about.
And she will never be alone.
I wish I could tell her that. I would smooth her mussed tangles and whisper, "You are awash in unexplained grace. You will experience heartbreak you cannot yet imagine, but you will be lifted, covered, carried. You will be weak and you will know strength. You will be scared to lose. You will lose. And you will learn to trust again. You are awash in grace, darling, simply dripping in it. And that, will make all the difference for you."
I would tell her to seek after God without fear. I would help her to understand grace sooner. I would tell her not to regret anything that wasn't a black mark on her soul, and for those black marks, to let herself cry, repent and then forgive.
I would tell her that life doesn't begin at any one point. You're already here, every moment, this right here, this is life. So live it. Relish the early morning, peaceful exhalation into a silent street, the hustle and rush of working for a living, the careful selection of food at the grocery store, the glueing and painting and making of crafts for yourself and friends, the crumpling to the floor in an agony you should never know.
This, right here, is life.
So don't wait. Don't worry, don't fear and don't hesitate. Do what is in your heart, follow the path where your feet find themselves, love the people on that path. Sing every day because it keeps you connected to who you are. Write and make things as often as you can. Live in grace and learn to give what you have already received.
I would tell her, every moment is precious and you don't know how many are left. I would also tell her, for heaven's sake! you're not yet thirty years old, what are you so damn worried about?
And then I would laugh. And it would take her a minute, but then her nose would scrunch and eyes crinkle and she would laugh too. Because she would know that I am right.
Inspired (as always) by Sarah Bessey and her recent participation in Preston Yancey's Conversation with Ourselves blog series.