My first born girl turns 10 today.

Soon I will kiss her 10-year-old cheeks and think how much they still smell like her 9-year-old cheeks.

And I will cry in private moments, wondering how 10 years can pass like wind.

And I will smile telling the stories of her birth and showing pictures of her in all big beautiful brown-eyed glory. And I won’t be able to hug her enough.

I just can’t hug her enough.

Her papa and I will wonder aloud how this happened, and we will call her our Double-Digit Darlin’ — just like my parents called me when I turned 10. She will look in our eyes with a mixture of knowing and questioning, and I might not know if that name makes her feel happy or melancholy, or just accepting.

Our girl will let us sing her happy birthday many times over, and allow her mama to yell from the car window, “My girl is 10!” She will laugh, and her cheeks will turn red, and a lot of pieces of her will love it.

She’ll make sure we know that she is not officially 10 until 10:48 at night, when she’s fallen into sleep and her book has dropped from hand.

I wonder if that waiting for the nighttime turning of the clock to “actual birthday” may be her way of living the last day in the year that was and looking forward to what will be, rather than what is yet.

Somehow, she’s able to live in the tension that makes most people uncomfortable.

She’s got deep fibers, that scientist artist of ours.

And moxy and humility.

And wisdom and understanding far beyond her days.

She’s complex and funny and plucky and strong and tender.

Her laugh fills a room with honey.

Our girl — she’s on the verge of life changing,

and she is so beautiful with her free smile and hair silky flow

behind her,

growing it for girls with cancer.

She is a planner and a no-planner, a let’s hang out in our jammies girl, a leader of friends and little sisters.

A homebody and an adventurer.

A question-asker and way-maker and silly accent-talker.

She is my friend and my delight and our joy.

And so much more than all that.

On the night Sici was born, she slept in my arms and through the night I awoke from wholly satisfied life changed, and over and over I saw her wise eyes — eyes i’d always known — looking right back at me. All through that first night.

From the first, longing for connection. Seeking to understand.

There are no words for this treasure.

She is extraordinary.

Happy birthday, darling girl of my heart.

(The painting above is a self-portrait created by my girl when she was 8.)

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