My daughter is standing at the top of the stairs and as I watch her I fear that if anyone should look right now they’d think that this was all there is, that this face of sadness is a constant and that perhaps her thoughts are always difficult.
I know differently. I know that her laughter is easy to procure. I know that her tears of pain, of complex, childhood heartbreak are almost too heavy to hold their shape but that they seldom fall. I know that her thoughts are deep and worrisome, at times. Yet, I know her thoughts twist themselves like melody into a balance which women 50 years her senior might envy.
I know that she struggles with the world, that she dances difficult steps that she determines to wrap her concentration around – she will master illogical events and processes. She will not be beaten by that which is not as she expected. She will find a way to put her feet in the right place and the applause at the end of the dance will be, to her, incidental, acknowledged briefly by a smile that will be the beginning of her private dialogue and her creation of fresh perspective.
And she is tender. Her hand in mine her small thumb brushes in circles on my palm as we walk. I am reminded of encircling her tinier palm with my own thumb when she was small, dinky booted feet atop a low wall on a wet Autumn day, meandering towards home. As my thumb moved slowly in her hand I hoped that this unspoken loving action would create a ripple in the waters of being besotted by my child. A silent reinforcement that she might know how very much I love her, how very safe she is under my gaze and how I am absorbing every second of our side by side time and making it part of who I am and who I will be. One day, when she is in the world without her hand in mine, I’ll rely on her knowing that my love goes with her and that silently and gently like an echo that doesn’t fade, my thumb still encircles her palm and my lips brush her brow still.
My daughter, resplendent in red pyjamas, not quite seven years old, her face warm-soft from sleep, stands at the top of the stairs after breakfast and before school and without saying a word, tells me stories of the future.