- The feel of her in my arms last night, as she shivered with fear, thunder booming overhead, shaking her little bones.
- Her taking my cheeks in her hands and saying, "I really yike you, Mommy."
- The look of her little body: naked, fresh from the bath; jumping on the bed; rolling in and out of my lap.
- Her words, silly and funny (the Aunties are still laughing about how Nolie entered the dining room at Charmyr and, waving her arms wildly, demanded, "Hey! All you Monsters! DANCE!").
- The way she wants to help, to be seen ("she lives for those words of praise from you," one of the Aunties commented, in the kindest way), to be loved.
Mostly, I'm thinking about how important these phases are, about my responsibility for helping Nolie move into the next stage of her life. Or, at least, that I should move out of the way more. Let her be who she is, at any given moment. I have the power to ease her way and model grace-giving, patience, and love. Or I have the power to lose my shit.
Maybe I can work on more of the former. So, this is a love letter after all, to one of my greatest teachers, Magnolia Jade. Happy Birthday, baby, big girl, little bug. And to many more to come.