Our Saoirse Kate turns four today.
It’s been four years since our house filled with light, since it swelled up with pride, since the walls started echoing with the kind of laughter that bubbles up from the inside until it has to burst out, out through the windows and up through the sky because hey, world, she is here and she is perfect and she is ours.
But she is not ours. It has become so clear over these past few years that we are only blessed enough to know her, to try to shape her as best we can, because even as we chase her around the house, and read books to her at night, and hug her when she comes running out of her classroom for us, and only us, she is not ours. She is growing, rising taller and taller, out of our grasp and through our fingers until up she goes, away.
This sweet child has a soul of something absolutely pure. She listens. She remembers. She dances and draws and creates stories as she pushes her little trains around the floor. She asks for crab legs for dinner, and shrimp with Old Bay. She prefers milk over water, and bagels for breakfast, and for lunch, “ketchup” soup and the cheese sandwich with the cooked bread. She eats half a lollipop, then puts the rest in the fridge for later. She tells us that she doesn’t need any more toys, that she has enough, and we should give some away to charity. She reminds us to give her a vitamin, and puts the tissue box on the counter for recycling. She tells us that she ate a good dinner, so please can she have some dessert please.
Already I can’t remember her as a baby. I can’t remember how she acted, and the way she spoke, because her words are becoming clearer. She looks like a little teenager in jeans and a simple top. She loves her Thomas umbrella, and asks us to tell her stories about Thomas and Belle going to Dewey Beach. She asks us what we’re going to dream about at night–we’re only allowed to name two things–and are told that we can’t dream about princesses, because she will. She says grown-up things like, “Actually, Mom, I don’t care for that” and “I would like that, also.”
She is a better child than I am a parent.
When I was six weeks pregnant with her the doctors told me I was probably going to lose her, that she wasn’t holding on. She did. When I was in labor with her, she struggled to come out, but couldn’t, and when she finally entered the world, she had a cry that was husky, almost beautiful. She was in the room, in David’s arms, the morning my father passed away. She was absolutely quiet, staring, and I will swear to you for the rest of my days that as his soul left his body, she and my dad had a conversation. She was too intense, too focused on something we couldn’t see. This child is light, and good, has a depth to her that I pray each day stays unchanged, and kind. I hope that the way she looks and listens and doesn’t miss anything helps her, and guides her, rather than taints her. And I thank God every single day–from when she races into our room to tell us she’s going to play downstairs awhile before breakfast, to when she asks us to read another story, don’t close the door, talk to me a little more, at night–that somehow we–we–were entrusted to bring this precious little girl through the world.
We won’t let you down, Saoirse Kate. We’ll keep trying to be as good as you deserve, and you will continue to grow, and change, and flourish, and rise. And we will watch you with awe, and pride, and a bit of wonder, because look at you. Look at what you can do.
Remember, always, Saoirse, now, and when you’re in high school, and when you’re starting out in the world, unsure of your place: You are smart. You are kind. You are special. We love you higher than the sky, and deeper than the ocean, and as you know by heart, that never ends.
Happy birthday, pumpkin. Let’s go eat some cake.