Two diminutive feet encased in black patent leathers swung in cadence to the music. Back and forth, back and forth, they kept time with the rhythm of carefully struck notes. Sparkling party dress spilling over the edge of the narrow piano bench, the tiny girl deciphered the musical code, forehead scrunched with eyes intently focused. As a guest to the local performing arts recital, I had been treated to a succession of endearing performances; suddenly, however, my eyes filled with an unexpected wash of longing. I couldn’t help but be reminded.
My third-born will graduate from high school this week.
And why is it that when all of life seems to rush so eagerly forward, charging undaunted into the new with banners boldly unfurled, my heart screeches to a halt in a mad effort to hang onto the what has been? It stole upon me unexpected, this sweet, dear, aching loveliness. Those years of mundane and everydayish and plain ol’ crazy, but can we just stop this moment and breathe it deep forever?… they’re behind me. But the beauty of it all is so profound, it pierces.
Two small feet swinging time to the melody of life’s glorious dance.
Nine months previous when senior was an untried badge worn proud and new, they all went off to camp. We parents sent them with letters, words of life and love to fuel the final stretch of that often arduous, never predictable thirteen-year marathon.
And now, with ceremonies just a day away, I am transported back to the time when I added careful creases to my girl’s note and sealed it tight.
It’s impossible to fully comprehend. You are living this moment. To be launching your senior year, wrapping up high school and preparing to storm the world with all the keen gusto of young adulthood… almost unfathomable.
Not because you’re not ready. And not because you shouldn’t be here. Except that you shouldn’t. Not yet. It’s just come far too soon for my fairy-girl who loves to play dress up and read “Frog and Toad” and frolic on the trampoline. To be heading out into the yet-unknown adventure called life? Far, much too soon. Don’t you still want me to braid your hair in long blondish ropes and tie your scuffed-up shoes and teach you how to make a PB & J? Don’t you still want me to tuck you under piled-up covers and rub Eskimo kisses, tickling ‘til the giggle fest hurts and you beg for mercy?
But you’re ready to embark upon adventure. You’re ready to wind down this season’s grind of papers and books and studies, late nights and early mornings and too much thinking. You’re focusing on what’s ahead, making plans and dreaming. It’s as it should be. You are as you should be.
You are more than that, though. You are stunning, stellar, a bright comet flashing through the sky of the just every day, shimmering and blazing our eyes with Creator-bestowed glory. You are perfect. Perfectly made and perfectly right for this moment, this place.
And I am so proud. More proud than I even pictured I could be. For you surpass what I dreamed. When I imagined you, wrapped inside my growing belly, wondering what shade of eyes would captivate me or how the soprano of your voice would ring, I never imagined YOU. You are so much more than I could have invented, even with heaven’s inspired creativity… you are more.
You are merciful. You put me to shame with your longing to lavish grace.
You are hilarious. I can’t stop laughing when you start entertaining, and I love it.
You are purely unique. I am challenged by your viewpoints, thrilled by your individuality.
You are loyal. Fiercely.
You are adventurous: a conqueror.
You are passionate. Your love vibrates my heart with intense affection.
You are strong. Stronger than I was then; sometimes stronger than I am yet.
You are devoted, heart, mind and soul.
You are gorgeous. You radiate.
You are intelligent. You think so penetratingly well.
You are talented, achieving so much with excellence.
As you go forward, a senior, I pray that this year will be one of victory: that you will look upon your foes, private or public, and you will vanquish each one by the mighty power and unquenchable love of the Holy Spirit. That you will discern clearly, stand firmly, and love deeply. That in all your growing, you will remain firmly rooted. That your zeal will expand one-hundred fold. That you will prepare to fly, discovering the nest to be a divinely positioned place of launching, not merely cocooning. May you thrive in your Father’s grace, deep, rich, and profound. May you see Jesus high and lifted up, and in His light may you discover your passion to push into the glorious unknown.
I love you, my cherished little girl. I love you, my beloved teenage daughter. I love you, my amazing young woman, my friend. You are my forever treasure.
Tomorrow I’ll watch her cross the stage and break the ribbon into the new and now. She won’t look back; she’ll have eyes fixed on the Author and Perfecter of her faith, calling her around the next bend. It’s as it should be.
But I won’t be able to help but see those tiny patent leathers twirling their way across that platform.
And I’ll be cheering loudest.