There are those who walk among us whose destiny, it seems, is to love unconditionally. They nourish us. They buoy our spirits. The doors to their hearts are flung open wide, so that the world might enter.
One such sweet being is my daughter, Abigail.
Abigail was born fifteen years ago this January. I remember the weeks proceeding that occasion well. Many a moonlit night we walked together, over the frozen tundra of Portland's Back Bay--she just inches from my heart. I whispered to her. I sang to her. I told her how much I looked forward to her coming.
From the moment she arrived into this life, she has been my love. And she has been, as her name suggests in Hebrew, "Her father's joy."
Abby makes no effort to conceal her affection for others. No typical teen (or typical adult, for that matter) is she. This week I was asked to give a presentation at her high school, after returning from a few days out of town. She hadn't seen me since the previous Thursday. On my arrival at the school, Abby burst forth through the doors, ran across the school courtyard and grabbed me with a hug so fierce my breath was temporarily lost. Snowflakes melting in her hair, she danced me across the pavement, telling me how much she had missed me.
Her father's joy, and mine.
In her ebullient love for us, and for all around her, Abby has served to keep the essence of Christmas firmly anchored. Upon hearing that we might cancel our holiday open house, my darling Abby-gal took the reins, and galloped those festivities to the finish. She motivated us to send invitations, decorate the house and cook a sumptuous (if slightly lower key) feast. She strung a Dr. Suessian display of lights in our front yard. She entertained a raft of children in our basement, watching "Elf," and coordinating a vigorous game of charades.
Over the past few weeks she has continued to prompt us to engage in Christmas cheer. She has wrapped presents. She has accompanied me on errands. She has given me pep talks. She has listened to my philosophical ramblings about lessons learned through times of difficulty. Yesterday she even offered back a reference to rebirth, as seen in Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, recently read in her high school English class.
Abby has been my teacher.
As with the original Eve, Biblical mother, Abby has opened my eyes with her offering of wisdom. With her offering of unconditional love.
She has flung the doors to her heart wide this sobering holiday season, and allowed me to seek comfort there.
And, on the Eve of the coming of the light of the world, I am greatly humbled.
Yarmouth Town Landing, December 2010