She changed because she wanted to.
It wasn't easy, either.
You see, it's one thing to see yourself as you are, desire to change something about yourself, and then wholly another to do something about it. People can spend a lifetime wishing away fault and time and end up exactly how they began.
Which might be j u s t f i n e, if it weren't for the wishin'-they-were-different thing.
I know exactly when it happened, too, this change. I saw it. I was on the sideline, privileged spectator to her sport--her life--and though imperceptible to another living soul, I saw it. Could she even see it?
Isn't this one of God's gifts to mothers, to see that to which others are blinded--the precious, the extraordinary in our children? This...this...is when I feel kinship with Mary--treasuring the invisible and pondering it in my heart.
Years later, she would confirm: indeed, I had witnessed the genesis of her change.
Why did that feel like a small victory?
I suppose because this shift was so palpable to me, it was maddening when others couldn't see it. How could they not? They continued to see her as who she had been, not who she was becoming.
"They" were high schoolers--of course they couldn't see! They didn't want to see. And that's not blaming them, either, it's remembering: who they are and that time of life when boxes are constructed and people are expected to live within carefully drawn lines.
Holy fire began a refining work inside her, though, and that box and those lines didn't fit anymore. She couldn't not change.
I watched this quiet, reserved chile grow up and out and different. Harbored in cocoon, she decided to crazy/love Jesus...and it showed. Her change was a work of His.
She smiled more.
* * * * * *
The other day she accompanied me to her brother's first high school cross country meet. It was a large field of runners and I didn't see any of my friends and hadn't met most of the runners' parents. I was content to be alone in a sea of people; in fact, I preferred the company of my daughter as opposed to making small talk with strangers.
I forgot she had changed.
Another mother walked up to us, uninvited. Her conversation was stilted and awkward and negative, and I didn't want to work that hard (later someone would actually say to me "that lady you were talking to is crazy..."). I wasn't rude, just uncharacteristically short.
If my daughter noticed my behavior, she didn't acknowledge it. Instead I watched her engage this woman like she was the most important person in the world. She was attentive, concerned and inquisitive. And kind.
Her kindness shamed me.
And reminded me of what it feels like to be dismissed.
* * * * * * *
On the drive home I told her how proud I was of her; how impressed I was with how she handled this woman; how lazy and selfish and dismissive I was (at least in my heart), but how much I appreciated and noticed her kindness and grace to someone who was socially awkward.
She tells me things I already know but don't always want to remember--
People just want you to listen.
People just want to be heard and to know that you care.
She says you have to learn how to talk to people, and it doesn't happen without great intention.
And she reminds me of something so easily forgotten now: who she used to be--
"I learned because I've been dismissed...and I remember what that feels like...."
My heart aches then swells.
Her inner beauty brings tears to my eyes.
I long for bigger words than "thank you" to express my gratitude to God for allowing me the privilege of being her mother. Is it morbid to say I'm also grateful He gave me the years to see this stage in life? One denied to my own mother?
She is a hero who will change the world because she dares to crazy/love.
Today is her 19th birthday.
Day after tomorrow she leaves for college.