By: Jana Greene
She doesn’t know it, I’ve pulled a muscle, and it’s all her fault.
I am lacing up the back of her dress, the periwinkle blue ribbons weave in and out of the stays, corset-style. I have to lift the tendrils of red hair out of the way as I work, and I worry it will be too tight -I can tell she is sucking it all in.
Her dress has all of the elements of girly-ness that she guffawed only a few years ago: sparkles, lace and taffeta. All the pretty things she used to think were silly. It is strapless ballerina-style, showing off her young curves and fair skin. As I pull the last of the ribbon through and tie it into a bow, the muscle that is my heart lurches.
“There,” I say. “all done.”
Like Scarlett O’Hara she arches an eyebrow, and eyes herself in the mirror. Sunlight just so happens to be coming through the window at the perfect angle, setting the on fire. So many rhinestones! The perfect amount to be glitzy, without being tacky. They are sprinkled throughout her dress and in her hair – even on her shoes. Just to be certain she sparkles enough, she slides on a bracelet chock-full of them, and clips on dazzling earrings to match.
The lurching again, in the heart. The pulling.
The heart is a muscle, and if it’s working properly it is always in motion. Lurch and soar, lurch and soar.
My daughter is always in motion, too. How can this be? I am wondering how this moment came to pass, sitting on the edge of the bed, watching her slip on ridiculously high heels. The reel of her growing up sped through my mind.
Don’t panic over time lost, I tell myself. And don’t rush into thoughts of the future. It’s a struggle to live in the moment sometimes. Even when the moment is beautiful.
Not very long ago, this girl hid herself away. Not very long ago, she didn’t want anyone to notice her at all. But now …
She cannot wait to see her boyfriend, to assault his senses with her girly-ness -sparkles, lace and taffeta. He is wearing a suit with a vest to match her dress, and she swoons when she sees him. He is utterly handsome. I want to think that they look like two kids playing grown-up, but no. They really are growing up.
She beams while her date ties a corsage around her wrist. It is a lovely, delicate gathering of white flowers, and it’s perfect. It had bloomed just the right amount to be perfect in time for the evening – just like her.
Boys were “gross” just a few years ago…weren’t they? The memory of her chiding her older sister for liking a boy is still clanking around in my mind when we drop them off at the venue.
When we drive away, I look behind me, and they are kissing. The rhinestones in her dress are glittering, and she has one ridiculously high-heeled foot slightly lifted – just like in the movies.
Lurch, goes the heart.
My hand goes over my chest involuntarily, but my husband takes my other hand and squeezes. This daughter is my youngest child; I will not go this way again. My husband knows that the stays are loosening, even as my heart tightens.
I surprise myself that think of my girl only several times – and not several hundred times – during the course of the evening. The occasion is making me feel a million things – old amongst them, to be honest. But mostly I am blissed-out that my daughter has come out of her shell in so dazzling a way. It is her turn to have young curves and fair skin and wear so many rhinestones. I hope she wears all the pretty, sparkly things every chance she gets.
When she comes home, she is barefoot and luminescent. She sits on the edge of my bed to share the details, even though its late.
Prom was wonderful. Her hands are fiddling with the edge of the periwinkle taffeta, just as girly as you please, as she rushes to tell me the details.
“Swedish meatballs were the best, and I ate lots of them. The courtyard was decorated with these candles and white lights, and linens and tablecloths… There was dancing, of course, and we slow danced, too, but I had to take my shoes off right away, because I couldn’t really walk in them, and all my friends loved my dress…..”
When I unlace her dress and her remind her to put away all of the sparkly things, she leans in for a hug. I take it, and hug her a little longer than usual, just because – like my daughter – the moment is beautiful.
And my heart soars.