T. is eight-years old today.
It's a lovely number, rounded at the top, and rounded at the bottom. Turned on its side, the number eight becomes the infinity symbol, everlasting and perpetual.
On this day, at eight, T. is all about musicals, and belting out "Tomorrow" and dancing in front of the big bathroom mirror. She wants to be a scientist when she grows up, and study marine animals. She loves her dolls, but sleeps each night with an old beloved t-shirt she outgrew long ago. She loves to cook and bake and she always--always--wakes up with a big smile, chattering about the new day. I imagine the world unfolding in front of her like fluttering silk, the day lit by her energy and spirit.
But one night last week T. was out-of-sorts. She is not a child who broods, or sulks, or lashes out. When things bother her I see them in her face at once, like shadows playing along a wall, and she struggles to put on a brave face, to smile the shadows away. At bedtime I asked her if she wanted to talk, and she shook her head at first. After storytime, she'd been filled with questions about how old I was, and did I like my age, and was I worried about turning 43 next year? Did I miss being in my thirties?
I always miss the year I leave behind, I told her. But turning a year older is like meeting a new friend--scary and exciting, and filled with possibilities.
T.'s mouth turned down at the corners, and the dam broke. She burst into tears, and hugged herself tight, arms across her chest.
"I don't want to leave seven behind," she said, in-between big sobs.
"Oh T.," I hugged her. "It's okay. Eight will be...eight will be the BEST. It will be just great!"