Little Girl is growing up, and that fact has really become clear to me this summer. For some reason, starting first grade seems like such a bigger deal than starting kindergarten was. She just seems so old, so grown up these days. It's like she turned six, and aged ten years in the process. She's not a baby anymore, that's for certain.
She's only six, and yet I'm already thinking of all the things she's outgrown and outgrowing. Things she's done for the last time.
A few years ago, a friend lost her little boy to brain cancer. Just a couple of weeks before his diagnosis, when nobody had any idea that anything was wrong with him, she and I were watching Little Girl and her son play together, and we teased that maybe someday they'd marry each other and we would be related. :)
And then came his devastating diagnosis, the months of treatment and hope, and then those final weeks when we knew there was no more hope. One concept his parents reiterated again and again during those months was summed up in three words: Hug your kids. Essentially they were reminding everyone else through their own experience that every moment with the ones you love is precious and shouldn't be wasted, because you never know how many more you have.
I remember when the end was nearing, and they talked about his last good day. They didn't know when it was until it was over. We can celebrate our child's firsts, but often we don't have a chance to celebrate the lasts because we don't usually know when the last time is occurring until after the fact.
I think part of why I treasure every moment spent with Little Girl is because of this little boy. Every time I see her, I think of him. I wonder what he would be like at this age. What would he be doing? What kind of person would he have turned out to be? And I recognize what a treasure every day we are given with Little Girl truly is.
Little Girl has a habit... an annoying habit, really, but one I cling to nonetheless. Ever since she was a baby, maybe 18 months or so, she has cried out, "Uppy, uppy!", wanting to be carried.
I'm telling you, the child is L-A-Z-Y. :) She wants to be carried everywhere. It can be particularly bothersome when you're tired yourself, or when the distance she wants to be carried is quite far, because it was one thing to carry her everywhere at 18 months -- at age 6, she is getting HEAVY!
My sister has become particularly impatient with this. "Uppy, uppy!" Little Girl will cry, retaining the word of her babyhood, and my sister has stopped paying her any heed. When she tells her no, she turns to me. "Uppy, uppy", and if there's any way possible to do it, I pick her up and carry her.
My sister says I shouldn't, that she's plenty old enough to walk, and to just make her walk and she will.
But she's six years old. She's not going to want to be carried forever. And every time she reaches for me and says, "Uppy, uppy," I am reminded that this time just might be the last.
And I'm not willing to risk forfeiting my last opportunity ever to carry her in my arms.
Because I won't know it's the last time until it's too late.