My older daughter Taylor is a planner and a collector. She has checklists to manage and schedules to keep and she manages them fervently. She likes to keep things, even little things far long after they are useful and I find old papers, broken toys, and empty containers in every corner of her room, she can't seem to find the will to give anything up or throw anything away. Even as a baby, she would take the tupperware out of the cabinets and restack them for me, often with a greater attention to detail than I would even pay to them as an adult. She cares about order, balance, and purpose, and it is something I appreciate in her more and more each day. It is always something we joke about.
My birthday is coming up - on Sunday and she's been vexed recently as to what she should do for me. Most ten year old's don't have cash to burn and the earnings she has I wouldn't let her spend on a gift for me. I keep telling her that my gift is spending the day with her - we are running a 5K together along with her younger sister (who I will most likely carry the duration) and that answer didn't satisfy her. She really wanted to do something special. I let her toil, she usually eventually lets things go, I assumed this would follow suit.
But tonight, as I worked on my computer she told me that she'd finally figured out what I should get from her for my birthday. She told me she had my gift upstairs and she wanted to show me. She couldn't keep the huge smile off her face and so we ascended the stairs, her leading me, holding my hand, and into my room. There, waiting for me on my dresser top was this picture and these two ribbons.
In her perfect handwriting, I read the words she had carefully written for me. This heartfelt note, and these two scraps of ribbon we had cut the night before a race she'd run a couple months before. To anyone who saw them, they were insignificant and tattered. We had cut them quickly - they were uneven and ragged at the ends. But they were the ribbons she'd worn for a 5K she'd run - the hardest one she'd ever done, the biggest PR she'd ever experienced, and the momento she'd been keeping in a plastic bag in the corner of her top drawer as a reminder. I had even blogged about it - the intensity and impact that experience had on her young soul and how she'd persevered in spite of how the run played out.
And here she was, standing before me without hesitation, and with so much meaning resting in them for her, she was giving them to me... and with an open and loving heart. It was like giving me a piece of her very soul. And my arms fell to my sides as I read, as the meaning sinking in. Finally meeting her gaze, I realized that she stood there expectantly, a smile on her face... wanting only for me to be happy in the gift. And the tears came to my eyes in the same moment that the breath left my body.
|The 5K, and the ribbons on her shirt|
And my reply, "I couldn't love you more." And I couldn't. And I can't possibly.