She will always live in my mind and heart as a sunny blonde child, curls bouncing, her smile quick and sweet. My daughter's twenty-third birthday is approaching, her newly-awarded college diploma already being put to use. Adult responsibilities are hers now, buying groceries, paying bills, all the things I tried to shield her from for so many years. At that age, we all believe that it will be different for us, only to find the days just as our parents often described, sometimes tedious and often frightening.
There aren't many things we can point to in our lives that are perfect. We move through our days bewildered and unsure of our decisions, and then we're faced with cleaning up after ourselves, wondering what we could have been thinking when we set off on that particular path. But this child, a woman now, was a being in the universe waiting patiently to find her way to me, just to me. Our destinies were determined timeless eons ago, and ultimately that time arrived. I knew her name at the moment that she was conceived, the instant marked in my heart as well as my body. She spoke it to me, soul to soul, heart to heart, and it was done. I read to her as she lay waiting in my womb, my words falling around us a I rocked her within, the Colorado wind swirling outside, the world a sparkling landscape of sun and snow. Then, as she lay in my arms for the first time, we knew each other well.
I turned around and she was five, marching off to kindergarten unconcerned about leaving me behind, knowing I would be there at the end of the day. This was a new adventure to her, something else to be conquered along with basketball or any other ball that bounded across her path. Braces followed when she was 10, another rite of passage along with a failed experiment with eyeglasses. Contact lenses didn't get in the way of all those balls so the switch was made, her optometrist amazed at her ability to adjust at her age.
High school passed in the mere blink of an eye, a tapestry of awards for topics from art to building a successful stock portfolio in economics class. And the balls kept on bouncing, earning her a scholarship to college, one of her fondest dreams realized. My pride burst for her.
But the image of those blond curls framing the twinkling hazel eyes of a little girl is still the picture that clicks into focus first when I think of her, only then followed by the reality of her adulthood.
I regret many things in my life. Those who say they wouldn't change anything if they could do it all again aren't paying close enough attention. Some of my regrets involve my daughter: how I handled a normal, yet difficult, teenage situation, or a decision I made on her behalf. But, the certainty of her being part of my being has never been questioned in my heart, my soul, or my mind. We knew each other millions of years ago, somewhere, and we knew what our roles were to be. My gratitude is endless.