Yesterday I received an unexpected gift. A beautiful, precious, nine-year-old girl gave me a hug. It was an incredible one. You know the kind, when someone puts all of herself into it. She came up to me, put her arms around my neck, squeezed me tight, and in the process wrapped me in her love. This little girl is not my daughter. In fact, she is not related to me in any way. Her expression of love so freely given felt like a special treasure just for me.
You may be wondering why this dear, sweet, little angel hugged me. I can only answer with guesses and perhaps even assumptions. You see this special little girl comes in to our office to get adjusted by my husband. Since she has been coming in to see him, I have had the pleasure of getting to know her. She is so open, spontaneous, and generous with her conversation. Filled with innocence, youthful wisdom, and spirit as she shares with me stories of her family, friends, and school. I have learned the names of her dolls, her friends, and even those things that drive her to distraction and better those that bring her great joy.
Yesterday, as she showed me her loose tooth that had yet to come out, I shared with her the story of my brother, David, taking a pair of pliers and a towel and attempting to pull out my tooth. Her face became full of surprise as she imagined this and as I teased her of the possibility of having someone do the same for her, she laughed as she vigorously shook her head. I find myself remembering my own nine-year old self when I’m in her presence, and it brings me great joy to laugh with her and to get to know her a little more upon each meeting.
There was a time in my life when I would have been intimidated by someone her age feeling as though I didn’t know what to say. Largely because I was too busy “trying” to be an adult I suppose. I have discovered that a huge part of being an adult is remembering what it was like to be a child. Not just remembering, but perhaps something more akin to rediscovering and then allowing that rediscovered part of myself an opportunity to come out and play. How many of these precious gifts have I missed simply out of fear or a need to “be” an adult or whatever “role” I felt it was “appropriate” to play at the time.
I am grateful that I have overcome that fear and the need to be anything other than me. I am grateful that I seek the opportunity to know people especially children for the gifts I have received from them in opening up my own heart and allowing my own inner child out to play seems so much greater than anything I am able to give. The smile that lights the eyes of a child when we listen to them is like the sun coming out from behind a cloud on a grey day. It lifts the spirit, and awakens the heart. It brings laughter and joy and a hug filled with unbounded love. I think this is the true gift to us (in fact one of many) of children…unconditional love. At least it is for me.
I often wonder if I offer my own children this same piece of me. In the reflection they offer to me I see both my wins as well as my learning opportunities. The gift of this little girl’s hug reminds me to keep learning and celebrating each moment I am blessed to receive an act of such genuine, unconditional love from one being to another and to offer the same to all those I touch whether literally or figuratively.