Confident hope

She walked out of the house wearing black flip-flops, arms wrapped around one piece of soft luggage, a sleeping bag, and a backpack. I strongly discouraged the flip-flops as the destination didn’t include a beach, but rather a small village near the peak of a Swiss mountain. She looked at me as if I had two heads sharing one brain between them when I recommended she wear the hiking boots I spent thirty minutes debating over in the shop.

When the boots wouldn’t fit in the bag, she carried them to the car hanging from the two fingers she could spare. I watched her and said “You’re kidding, right?” She rolled her eyes. In the course of our ten minute ride, she managed to work her magic on the shoes until they disappeared into a nest of tangled clothing and granola bars.

We drove up to the coach and the hundred kids waiting outside–all carrying rolls and bags–all decked out in hiking gear. I thought of the flip-flops and decided to choose my battles wisely. I didn’t say a word. I looked at her and she looked everywhere but at me as she gathered her things and ignored my smart silence and squinted into the crowd of sweatshirts and lace up boots for her friends. I reached across the seat to give a half-hug and I got as far as a pat on her shoulder and a loud “I love you, have fun!” as she barreled out of the car with all of her gear. The crowd swallowed her and her flip-flops whole.

On the drive home, I allowed myself one dirty, twisted moment to imagine the worst case scenario where a five day school trip turns into forever. I shook my head to clear my thoughts and my watering eyes. My hand on her shoulder and a rushed goodbye didn’t feel like enough. At home, I walked into her room with stack of clean clothes and I breathed her in. I thought of her thirteenth birthday arriving in a few weeks and I wondered if I’ll ever feel like I’ve done enough.

When she’s eighteen and she flip-flops her way into adulthood and my choice of battles must be all the wiser, will it be enough? Did enough love pulse through my actions like a string of heartbeats? Did I expose enough, hide enough, laugh long and loud enough? Did I give her just the right amount of crazy to discuss with a counselor someday? Enough for her to remember we’re all a little bit broken? Did I show her so much of the beauty that her heart never learns to fear the ugly? And did I make up for all of my lack with enough whispered prayers to paper the floors and walls and ceiling of her heart?

It’s too soon to tell. But I can tell you this, five days isn’t forever. Before long, I’ll return to stringing heartbeats and acting just crazy enough. I’ll show her the beauty and pray with a confident hope she remembers where to find it, and if she’s ever unsure she only need look as far as the walls of her heart.