Because she is my daughter

It happens in a second. As quick as I can sharply inhale. Yet it happens quietly, so she doesn’t hear the sound.

I glimpse the face in the photo we just snapped and I don’t recognize myself behind some added lines and layers.

My finger hovers above the trash icon. Waging war with a battle I can never win. Fueled by a collective voice of beauty supplies and advertising dollars. It lives in my head even though I deprive it of air. It breathes no matter what I do.

Then I see it. The way her eyes crinkle in the sunlight, matching mine in perfect symmetry. The way her cheeks crease when she is smiling, really smiling, and how the lines in mine tell a story 100,000 smiles long. We match each other, I am just 90,000 smiles ahead of her.

And I think, what if someone criticized her face? Her face that gathers sunlight and disperses it so serenely. What if she criticized her own face? Her face that welcomes me every single time I step into a room, shift into a vehicle, or round the street corner to come home.

Her face. My face. 

Will she remember the wrinkles from this day?

Will she remember my hair out of place, or the remnants of a sleepless night?

Or will she remember how our feet crunched through layers of newborn snow? How our voices echoed through a vacant park. How the sun shone through the impossible sky and warmed our cheeks 91 million miles below.

It breathes no matter what I do but I know how to smother the flame. 

I run. I laugh. I post the photo. Or at least save it for another day.

A day where she can look at it and appreciate the lines and layers.

Because her own face will have taken on some of its own.

Because every smile has been worth the distinctions, especially the ones we share together.

Because this is a day to remember and these are faces I don’t ever want to forget.

Because she is my daughter, and the greatest gift I could give her would be to spare her from this voice.

Each rotation we make, each laugh that rings out, each image I share– a radical act of love.

 

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