My niece turns eight next week, a fact that shocks me, I vividly recall being in the room when she was born. That is saying a lot for me – my memory is less than crisp (reminding myself to tell the story of the rabid pig in a future post). Today we were laying on towels in the shade at Memere’s, a bug box between us, watching a moth we had captured and were about to release. The luxury of time to just hang out with her, not having to be on my way somewhere, letting conversation flow felt like a gift.
After dissecting the characters of Frozen (we both like Anna the best), I asked her what she’s reading right now. she proudly told me she’s on chapter eight of “Little Women.” I registered a flash thought that I was going to remember this moment for years to come, as this child grows up and I grow old. Little Women is one book that has consistently been on my bedside table or bookshelf over the years. I actually own three copies. It resonated with me from the first time I read it when I was eight. Their struggles, their dreams. I even used to wish my name was Jo… I actually still do.
“Ya?” I casually said. “How do you like it?”
She likes it. She rattled off the names of the sisters, we talked about who’s oldest, their imaginative games, and how the story is set long ago but some things are the same today. I resisted trying to prepare her for what comes next in the book. I left it as it was for me, a story that unfolds as life does, hurting at times and making you smile at others.
As I looked at her, all chocolate brown eyes and hair barely restrained in a braid, it struck me what a gift she is. Gifts are unexpected but are often perfect for the people receiving them, and as is true in this case, they’re treasured. Jo March would have written about such a moment, so I thought I would too.