The doors of the grocery store slide open in front of us. Since our list holds very items, I grab one of the smaller carts. Not the large, oversized cart…we wouldn’t need that one until later in the week. “I can push it,” comes the voice of my nine year-old. “Okay, honey,” I say, letting her take control of the cart.
Inside now, she takes the lead, pushing the cart forward, then to the right toward the well-arranged section of bananas and oranges. She’d wanted to come with me tonight, alone. Just her. At home, the seven year-old had protested; she wanted to come, too, she said. But the long expression and pleading eyes of my oldest had made the argument final: this trip would just be us. Once inside the car she’d even said it out loud, “I wanted this to be time for just us, Papa.”
I watch her now as she expertly maneuvers the little grocery cart around various displays. Wow, she’s gotten taller, I think to myself. Her hair swishing at the middle of her back, I notice and silently measure where the top of her head now reaches on me. It seems higher. She seems…well, older.
And suddenly I am transported back to Portland, Oregon, in the house where she was born. She’s only a few minutes old, a precious bundle swaddled in a blanket. She only weighs around nine pounds. I hold her in my arms, so fragile and innocent, gazing at this wondrous child newly in the world. Now images of soft light on her newborn face suddenly flash into my mind, as I remember the Native American music my wife had requested playing quietly in the background.
Where did almost ten years go? I wonder. Where did they go?
“Do we need peppers?” she asks. She’s turning around, looking at me now. I hug her quickly, for no reason. Well, for a reason.
“Yes,” I answer. “Let’s grab a couple.”