“She is nine, beloved, as open-faced as the sky and as self-contained. I have watched her grow. As recently as three or four years ago, she had a young child’s perfectly shallow receptiveness; she fitted into the world of time, it fitted into her, as thoughtlessly as sky fits its edges, or a river its banks. But as she has grown, her smile has widened with a touch of fear and her glance has taken on depth. Now she is aware of some of the losses you incur by being here–the extortionary rent you have to pay as long as you stay.”–Annie Dillard
Danica has a journal where she’s kept heart longings for recovery after her surgery. In her innocent child handwriting she wrote healing wishes. They are hopes like swimming, running and playing outside at recess with her friends again. Every numbered list is a little different but each one has a common desire. She wanted a puppy of her own.
When your child is facing brain and spine surgery and months of restrictions and losses before and after you will promise them almost anything and worry about making good on it later. The dog was a yes like that. As the summer began to slip through our fingers and Danica’s next big scan and neurosurgeon trip to Johns Hopkins in early August approached her longing for a dog grew. The finances, logistics and the energy to make this addition to our family happen were difficult. I was particularly hesitant because I know the majority of caring for a new dog falls on me once the girls go back to school. My parents offered to help with the purchase, but I was dragging my feet. Danica was searching dogs online for hours each day. She studied breeds and made lists of names. She kept a log of the money she had and asked how she could earn more to help with the cost. And then she prayed. Every night when I tucked her in she asked God to please bring her a dog.
She is nine. Everything she’s endured has not hardened her, but she is changed. She can’t go back and reclaim the losses or forget the suffering. But she can believe sometimes putting something on a list enough times is like saying the earnest prayer over and over. She can believe dreams come true through the people who love you most and would give anything to see your pure childhood joy just one more time.
Welcome to our family, Rolo.