Delia just turned 10. "Double digits", she reminded us repeatedly. As I talked about this recent milestone with my mother she remarked that time was going so fast and wasn't it strange to think that before we know it Deedee would be 12 and in the Young Women's program at church. I felt like this was the suitable response to the idea of a child getting older. A mild shock-- like two year old Wendy experienced in the garden when Mrs. Darling declared, "Oh why can't you just stay this way forever!"-- that this was the beginning of the end.
But I couldn't muster that feeling because it seems to me like Delia is finally filling up the years that have always rightfully been her's. She came with a seriousness, a gravity, about her situation on this planet. She combs through her experiences peering anxiously into the detritus of the day to see where she went wrong, where she could have done it better. She listens and sorts and makes meaning of all things all of the time. She plans with intensity and the first two or three pages of her many notebooks and journals are filled with neat lists of ideas and what comes next . She is always aware of decisions and possibility.
I watch her living her life and I am reminded of a description that Wallace Stegnar uses in one of his novels to describe recounting a story from the past while being informed by your knowledge of the future. He calls it the doppler effect. An echo through time. It is almost like Delia knows what her future is and each present moment resonates with the inevitable.
When I see her among her siblings or peers getting along without effort, lauging and giggling, I am so relieved because I get to witness her in childhood. I savor the images of her with an easy smile, a playful shrug or an unrestrained excitement when she is free from the weight of dissappointment or the burden of staying on course. Thinking of her growing up for me is like thinking of watching Atlas grow from a slight little boy to a muscular man all while he bore the burden on his shoulders. In other words, a relief. When I think of her in Young Womens I actually breathe easier because I imagine her stature beginning to match her spirit.
Right now, for her birthday, I want her to know that I am proud of her,
that I am thankful for her tender, tender heart,
but, mostly, that
I love her.