This morning, I blow up pink, green and purple balloons, string lavender and spring green streamers in the dining room and decorate your chair.
Today is August 5th. You are the birthday girl, and I am thinking about you.
About how you christened yourself “Lala” because you could not say your name, and how it’s stuck because you — you are like a song.
About four years of steps and cries, hand-holding and a deep little voice, walks under the trees, favorite board games and funny one-liners.
About your smile and the silly expression you like to make for the camera with hands up next to your face, head tilted, big eyes, mouth wide open.
About the delight you bring to your sisters and how much they love to be with you.
I am thinking about how you responded to seeing the double amputee runner from South Africa on the Olympic coverage last night. How when you’d heard the story of Oscar Pistorius, you asked if you and Papa could pray for him and then you drew a picture of Oscar, joyous with arms wide, and his dad and mom, too.
I am thinking about your tender heart, the free way you give compliments (“Your dress is so pretty,” “I like your hair-do,” “You are funny”), the way you say “eeeeeee” when you give a big squeezing hug and how much you like to change your outfits.
I am thinking about when you were two, and we were camping with friends, and you shoveled fruit in your mouth faster than I could track, and I swatted the bees away from your sweet stickiness, and a yellow jacket made its way into your mouth on a chunk of food. I knew because you cried an angry cry, and then you pulled out the chewed-up mouthful and tossed it on your tray, and there was the yellow jacket.
After I’d squashed it and removed the stinger from your lip and stopped worrying that you’d have an allergic reaction in a remote place, we all laughed at how you seemed much more angry that the bee had interrupted your meal than that you’d been stung.
Man, you were tough, and indignant.
This morning, I am remembering our first days and how your birth was so difficult that we stayed in bed for a long time so I could recover. I am remembering how you were, and still are, the little snuggler I prayed for. You laid on my chest and nestled under my chin and you loved being face to face, I could tell right away.
I am thinking of how quickly the days from two to three and then from three to four have gone, how much I’ve forgotten, and how I wish I could capture every memory of your round cheeks and perfect hands and wavy hair. Every memory of your caring eyes and giggles at slapstick, and string them across the sky like streamers.
Then I remember the quote on our dear friends’ refrigerator — the one from Cesare Pavese that says, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.”
This feels so true as I look at the purple, green and pink across the ceiling, as I wait for you to wake.
We love all the days we live with you. We treasure all the moments we remember.
We love you beyond all imagining.
We thank God for you.
Happy birthday, Lala.