Isabella Grace-ious

Isabella Grace
The story of the girl who changes my life

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Fifth Candle

My daughter turned five a week and a half ago.


There are still times when I find myself looking through racks at clothing stores and picking out clothes for her in a size 2T. And then it hits me. She is growing up. She hasn't worn a 2T in two years. And now she is five. A weight lands on my chest and my eyes start to burn. Five. How did this happen?

Shortly after we brought Isabella home from a lengthy and serious hospital stay when she was 2 and a half, I went to check on her in her bed a few hours after she fell asleep. It was late, and very dark, and emotionally, I was not doing well. I sat down on the floor next to her bed and held her hand while I watched her chest rise and fall. I pretended to brush a curl off of her head while I really checked (for the hundredth time) for a fever.

Fear and exhaustion were eating me alive, and I realized that the biggest fear that I had was that she could leave us at any time, and I would be left here, without her to worry about. That thought sent me into a tailspin, and I started to cry. Nik came in and knelt down behind me, hugging my back as he wordlessly stared at our sleeping baby.

"I am so afraid that she isn't meant to be here for long." I whispered.

And all he said was "I know."

We both cried, unmoving on her floor for a long time, because we knew that a lifetime of worry would be worth every extra second, every smile, every breath that she could give us. Yet there we were, guaranteed nothing but the moment we were in, which was horrifying and beautiful, endless and fleeting.

Now she is five. Not a baby, less a toddler, more a "kid". She is miraculous: exceeding expectations, living fully, and unbelievably happy. I wish I could go back and count the wishes I've made since she was born, because the number of those that have come true is a miracle, too.

I have not journeyed far enough away from those dark days to not be grateful for every moment that I get to worry about her. It is a gift that attaches itself to me heavily, slowing me down and making every moment alive with emotion, while simultaneously setting me free to see every second as a wish come true, something to celebrate, the miracle that it is.

Every year on her birthdays past I have blown out her candles for her, making two wishes as I close my eyes. One wish: to be blessed with another day to worry about her, and the other: that someday soon she herself would blow out her candle with a wish of her own.

Make a wish, sweet girl
On her fifth birthday we celebrated her beautiful birth, her beautiful life, and her beautiful future. We sang, with her round face lit up by the single flame of her number 5 candle. When we were done, we told her to make a wish. She looked down, lowered her eyelids, and smiled slightly. After one practice puff, she inhaled again, determined. And then, as if she had been doing it on her own forever, she extinguished the flame of her fifth year on earth and looked up with eyes wide with pride and a shy smile. She looked right at me for the briefest of moments, and I knew that this girl of mine is ready to be five, even if I am not.

I will forever hold on to her fifth birthday candle, the first that she blew out on her own. The one that will always remind me of the day she made a wish for herself, and granted a wish for me.

Happy Birthday, sweet Bells. Always remember to wish hard....
....and to celebrate harder.

1 comment:

  1. This post made me cry (in a good way)
    Happy belated birthday beautiful cherub :)