My daughter’s eyes are swollen and puffy-popped pink with 85% pollen and 15% heartbreak. The boy who has been calling her his for the last year, has decided that she is not his any longer.
She is 10.
I hug her against me, hold just enough restraint in my sympathy to convey the insignificance of this. This is kid’s stuff. This is dust. This will pass. This is not the real thing. You are ten.
I tell her, you are too young to be in pain. You are too young to know what this is.
Baby girl, I tell her, there is a highway of boys out there who will run you over if you don’t learn to bob and weave through the traffic and the noise. There is a landscape of pain if you don’t learn how to build walls and fences around yourself.
Baby girl, I tell her, the world may be round, but your love is vast and flat, and there will be tornados and hurricanes and dust storms and some daisies. There will be scavengers and pillagers and rolling thunderous skies. And there will be sweet cotton clouds inviting you to look and dance and breathe. You must learn to build the shelter, to be the shelter.
Baby girl, I tell her, there will be weak wood and shoddy craftsmanship. Your shelter will not always stand, walk, hold you in its arms the way you want it to. But it will be built from my tears and my resolve. You will simply have to allow yourself to live there.
I hold her to my chest, bury my chin in the nest of her hair. She will not always fall against me so easily. In two years, three, maybe four she won’t fit at all. We will be pieces of different puzzles. Our angles will collide.
But, baby girl, I will still be the shelter. I will still have a roof, strong walls, and a door that’s never locked.
The storm is coming. These are the clouds.
This is 39.
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