Behind my eyes, a pure story is like a gazillion grains of untouched sand.
Its telling a graceful sifting through open fingers.
But when I open my eyes and look down life’s supposedly pristine coastline, I often find it jarring.
“Hey, what’s that syringe doing there?” I have to ask. Or, “What’s with the broken bottle?”
In all aspects of life I am drawn towards symmetry.
But apparently I get reckless.
Smuggle in sharp objects.
And then, instead of gracefully sifting, I am prone to delve my fingers in too deeply, grasp more than I should from the wet depths.
Lovey’s mother is a bohemian queen, her father shot himself in the heart.
My son and I adore her. Have long adored her.
Since her debut in our lives when the children were five, bursting from some lilac bushes the side of our new house, bearing a welcoming gift of artwork.
“I’m Lovey,” she announced. “I live there,” pointed next door. “I brought these for you.”
Scratches up and down her arms from her makeshift shortcut, she fanned her drawings out on the table in our garden.
“They’re quite vivid,” I offered.
“This one is a haunted hotel.”
She pointed to some Crayola mess in the upper window. “See this guy?”
She checked me then, for my reaction, and I checked her right back, for something else.
“What’s suicided?” my son asked.
Lovey chewed on her bottom lip and touched the thick bangs of her pixie cut.
I was terrified of what she would say. But I didn’t know what to say first.
“It’s hard to explain,” she eventually answered.
“Would you like some water?” I asked pathetically, lifting the dewy carafe. “We have straws.”
“No, thank you, I’m allergic to water,” she responded, eyeing my iced coffee.
“I’ll just have what you’re having. Or chai, if you’ve got it.”
My son and I are hard to please. But this girl? We were hers.
The next day, when we arrived home, Lovey was waiting for us. Inside.
“Lovey, I’m not sure you should go into people’s houses when they are not home,” I tried.
“Then how will I know for sure they’re not home?”
And that’s how Lovey became a regular installment in our lives.
Every day, and many, many nights, for four years.
Four years of her daring, her beauty, her straight-forward love.
Four years of her macabre Halloween costumes, her smart quips, her terrifying choices at amusement parks.
Four years of reading to her during rainstorms, tolerating her mood swings, watching her limbs lengthen.
Four years, and suddenly plans were laid for her to travel the world with her mother.
“That’s wonderful,” I attempted, on behalf of my excited girl.
Helping her pack, Lovey observed my tears with interest.
“Are you crying because of me?” she wanted to know.
“I am going to miss you so much, Lovey.”
She gave me a big grin.
“Good,” she said.
And I did.
Nine months later, after a hurricane scare on an island she was visiting, Lovey called to ask if she could come live with us.
I did the weirdest thing I’ve ever done, and begged her mom for partial custody.
And her mom did the weirdest thing she’s probably ever done, and agreed.
In four short days, we will greet our Lovey at the airport for our third summer together.
She has not even arrived yet, and already I anticipate the shards of pain I will experience with her departure.
They will be sharp and jagged, I raw and messy.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.