Dear Sweet Karoline,
This night is fading into morning and soon it will be your birthday. You're curled up next to me and I watch you sleep. This is your "last night of being five." In the morning, it will be your sixth birthday. We'll go to tea together. Nicky will make you a four layer cake, exactly to your decorating specifications. Will that other front tooth come out? I think it might.
But right now, in this moment, I want to capture you on the brink of tomorrow. Your sweet face, framed in curls, looks just enough like it did the day you were born that I can take myself back. Perfect baby. Every answered prayer in a sweet bundle with rosebud lips. You captivated everyone that day. We were forever changed.
There is a collage of four black and white photographs of your newborn days that hangs at the top of the stairs. I stop, even if for only a moment, every. single. time. I never want to forget how I looked at you and knew that God had seen straight into my heart and smiled big when He handed you to me.
For six years, you have danced your darling way through the life of our family. You are the first to soothe a hurt, whether it's a little sister with a stubbed toe or a big brother with a broken heart. You feel them all and you work your magic to make it all better.
Ever generous with a hug and a smile, you exude genuine friendliness to every one you meet. You expect the best of people and you look for it so hard that you are rarely disappointed. Sarah Annie considers you her best friend. She is one really blessed little girl. There is no better friend.
You love creation and you love the Creator. You've never met a turtle or a bug or a bird or a bunny that you didn't want to adopt forever. Most nights, your pockets are full of acorns and pebbles and you are always Most Likely to Hide Sticks in the Car so you can bring them home. Sometimes Daddy tries to stop you. Usually those big blue eyes persuade him otherwise.
And God. Oh, how you love your Jesus! He is real and dear to you. You are our walking reminder on the ordinary days, in the ordinary moments, that God is near; God is here. Very matter-of-factly, you just beam it. And we believe it because everything about you says it's so.
Every night, you fall asleep with your feet touching mine. Usually, you start in your bed and then, sometime before morning, you and your kitty pillow find their way into the big bed in my room. You curl up in the middle, seeking Daddy's comfort, and you manage to stretch out across much more than half the mattress. And we don't mind. No, we don't mind at all.
Because we know how blessed we are to linger for a few moments in the loveliness of five and to awaken in the morning to the hope and promise and utter joy that is six.