Cai's hair used to be like cotton candy. The only time it was ever smooth was when she was fresh out of the bath - we'd brush it down in broad strokes - right down to the tiny lip at the bottom that threatened to curl - and the next morning it would be a tiny seething mess of cotton, unwilling to remain tamed.
She had enormous blue eyes framed with thick lashes. Her forehead came with a dent across it, just like her daddy's. Her fingernails and toe nails were always chewed right down to the nub, and she wore her baby teeth out chewing on every hard plastic object she could find. She was smart... like crazy smart. She could memorize long passages - and was willing to perform them on demand. Yet even though she seemed to thrive on performance, she was intensely shy. People exhausted her and she was six before i saw her voluntarily make eye contact with an adult. She listened - and remembered what she heard. She understood nuances in adult conversation and implications beyond her years.
She was unique, my firstborn.
And now... on the very cusp of 16, she twists her neck elegantly to smile at her daddy as she works in the kitchen.
"Are you proud of me, dad? Are you proud that i'm in my second last year of highschool?"
And she catches him off guard - this gruff daddy-man. He suddenly wraps his arms around her thin frame and i wonder if i am the only one to catch the undercurrent in his tone as he tries to laugh, "Let's not talk about that right now..." (or ever... his voice implies).
And it scares us - to feel like children yet - while our children grow.
It scares me this wild fierce pride that comes in pounding waves of love and hope and surrender.
And her cotton hair is tamed, her nail beds repaired... Adulthood beckons.