When Claire was born in October 2001,
it transformed my life in more ways than one.
And it wasn't just caring for a baby; Claire was an extraordinary baby.
She was like a little doll, she was adorable,
and I loved dressing her, feeding her,
putting her down for a nap, making her laugh,
teaching her words, reading books to her,
taking her on walks, and exploring outside.
Her constant curiosity allowed her to view the world in a magical way.
Unlike kids her age who asked conventional "why" questions,
she asked me the "what if" scenarios that demanded creativity.
Practical answers were boring; instead, she preferred to think in
ways that were captivating.
While making bread in our kitchen one afternoon, I set the dough aside to rise.
Claire, however, didn't seem interested in the science behind the process.
Instead, she launched into a fantastic tale about what would happen
if the dough rose so much that it became a sibling.
The humdrum truth never satisfied the answers,
especially in her magical little world.
This was obvious in her drawings and sketches because everything
and everyone had a story, a purpose, and a happily ever after.
Her little frame was housing a deep soul that gravitated to beauty and color.
Every night after she was in bed, I'd reflect on our day together,
and everything about her left a profound impression on me.
I learned a lot about myself from her, including courage and conviction
that I was a good mom and could handle and love more children.
After our accident in 2008, Claire, 8, grew up quickly, maybe too quickly
and she lost some of that passionate curiosity.
She had to be the "big girl," doing and acting like the oldest of three younger
fragile siblings living in a world where her two parents were physically
and emotionally very sick.
Nothing romantic or happy about that.
My heart aches for that little
girl who was invincible with so many creative thoughts and ideas.
I feel like I abandoned her.
I think during those few years right after the accident,
my constant demands overshadowed her,
which maybe caused her to stifle her creativity and free spirit.
Over time, she would tap into these qualities,
it was reflected in the way she decorated her room,
dressed herself and the books she loved. (Jane Austin!)
Because of what she experienced at such an early age, I think
she often felt misunderstood by her friends
and cousins, which made it hard for her to form deep connections
with them, especially her desire for fairy tale endings and a world of
color and imagination.
These days Claire is living in a practical world far from me.
Despite the distance, she's juggling two jobs, school, and dating.
I can only imagine how sometimes challenging this must be for her,
going on blind dates that involve activities like bowling and
working long hours alone without her support system.
It's not an ideal situation for that little girl who craves creativity, color
It's been 15 years since the accident, and she finds herself back in Arizona,
where her little life took a dramatic turn.
However, this time around, she's on a journey of self-discovery.
She's learning that her true self is a combination of practicality and romance,
spirituality and fun, progress and righteousness,
colors, and black and white, introversion and extroversion.
She's testing her faith over fear and finding that her
vulnerabilities are connecting her with others,
particularly with patients in the burn center because
she understands the pain caused by such injuries.
She also realizes that happily ever afters
require a lot of work and time.
But most importantly, she's learning to rely on the Savior
for direction and peace.
Watching Claire fight for her future and happiness with steadfastness and courage
is inspiring and often heartbreaking. I hate to see her struggle.
I want her to be four again and to pick her up and sit her
on the counter while we cut up
perfectly red juicy strawberries and whip the cream for the top.
We would talk about what would happen if the sun disappeared for a day.
The earth would NOT freeze, sending the planets wildly out of orbit,
in her innocent world, if that happened, it would be a cozy adventure and we would live by candlelight, tend to the fire,
cook food over the hearth, invite little cold critters from outside to come in,
find a spot on the sofa and read books about love with good endings,
and bedazzle our sweaters with beads and gems.
Claire, my imaginative, optimistic, innocent daughter,
never lose sight of who you are; what you were made for,
where you came from, and that you have a very bright future ahead.