Alea winds the swing up like a top and when she lets go, Cora spins faster than my eyes can keep up and her blonde hair fans out around her in a blur. And I think it’s exactly what the last 9 years has looked like.
Yesterday was Cora’s birthday. She’s one year short of a decade herself… but in some ways she’s an even older soul. She’s quiet and ponderous and always observing. When you first meet her, she can seem rather serious, but she still laughs harder than you can imagine at poop jokes. She spends almost all of her free time outdoors, building fairy houses out of bricks and constructing ramps for her bike out of spare wood and walking LeLe around the neighborhood in hopes of luring other kids outdoors. She’s practical and frugal and sentimental and deeply loves office supplies… and these tendencies converge in her personal homemade greeting card line. We go through a lot of copy paper, but she’s always making us the sweetest notes. Cora wants to be a teacher someday, but sometimes we see glimmers of an engineer or a project manager in her… she’ll do fine at any of it, considering how she can already hardly resist over-explaining in great detail all the necessary steps we need to take in order to accomplish something we thought we already knew how to do.
For her birthday, she wanted to have a wolf-themed party. And I think it fits her. After all, she loves to howl and be outside. But it’s more than that. She’s unafraid of being alone and she moves decisively in her own direction. And maybe more than a wolf, she reminds me of an explorer with a steadfast commitment to her internal compass. Cora’s sense of direction isn’t wavering… she’s learning to trust the True North of love and grace and forgiveness and mercy, and she’s steady and unwavering in her pursuit of what she believes to be the right and true direction.
She is her own person and she knows what she likes and what she doesn’t. For example, she doesn’t like buying shoes. Her current tennis shoes were hand-me-downs (read: already broken in) and she’s worn them till they are coming apart at the seams. We attempted to buy shoes the other day and after trying on about 5 pair, she exasperatedly announced, “These are not comfortable! I cannot even live my life in them!” NaiNai and Aunt Hannah are coming to the rescue with a “new” pair of Hannah’s broken-in-tennis shoes in the mail.
She’s comfortable in her skin. I like this about her. She whittled my birthday party plans down until she had only 2 friends in attendance because she knows herself and knows she likes small parties better. She helped design “She’s a Wild One” cards for the gathering and pulled out her beloved office supplies to make labels for the dinner, serving wolf’s prey (chicken nuggets), twigs (pretzel sticks), lake water (her favorite lime sherbet punch), bears and bones trail mix (featuring gummy bears and yogurt pretzels) and a campfire cake. She and her friends slept in a tent in the living room and roasted marshmallows in the back yard. We had homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast. She gave them stickers that said “Wild & Free” for a gift to take home.
And I think that’s how I’m going to remember this season of her life… it’s the season her hair is windblown and always pulled into a ponytail and she smells like sunshine. It’s the season she discovered she is Wild and Free. And may it always be…
My dear girl, as you stand on the edge of “tweendom,” my prayer for you this next year and beyond is for your indomitable spirit to always remain untamable, wild and free. May you submit only to the call of your True North, learning to listen for the voice of the One who makes you free. Follow him, dear girl… chase after him unwaveringly, fearlessly, freely.
The wild places he leads you will always be good. And always remember I’m wildly grateful for every beautiful day with you.