25 July 2006

poor five





that's what she said to me tuesday when I asked her what it felt like to be five years old for one last day.

"poor five," she sighed. "I'm going to miss being five. and I think five is going to miss me."

I knew I was going to miss five too. I felt that deep, familiar ache and looked at ava with new eyes: legs growing long and spindly, dirty blonde bangs hanging unevenly over big brown eyes, crumbs from an afternoon snack on her cheek, two newly loose teeth. the frailty of all this, the urgency of living right now, the soaking up of as much of ava and ezra as possible. all of this and then I felt the waves of something absolutely indescribable wash over me.

that night, we lay on her bed under the large paper lanterns. we talked about the day she was born. I began to ask her all kinds of questions, mostly about things we both assume I already know. things like her favorite number (1,000), her favorite color (red. and pink. and yellow and purple). her favorite food: spaghetti. least favorite food: black beans. all-time favorite drink: cold milk with lots and lots of ice. favorite book: count down to grandma's house, favorite song: twinkle twinkle little star (and uncle nate's 'breathe slow'). her favorite piece of clothing is something that no longer fits-- a pink terrycloth skirt with the tiniest, cutest little front pocket, a skirt she wore until it begged to be retired. I continued to ask questions because I wanted to know. because it's the kind of stuff you think you know about a person (namely your own daughter) but so often don't. and it's true, some of her answers surprised me. surely these answers will change a hundred times over the course of the next ten years, but on the eve of her 6th birthday, I wanted to know. so that'll I never forget who she was on that night. she's deeper than these questions but still. you always think you'll remember the basic things, but sometimes you don't. so many times, you really just don't.

and so she turned six yesterday. in the midst of an impending move and a current of stress so electric I'm afraid to step in water, we celebrated a birthday. we ate breakfast in bed, rode a carousel, built a bear, ran through fountains, ate lunch with daddy at the varsity. and there were balloons, of course. and lots of family and chocolate cake with cherry-flavored icing and many, many presents. I woke up at three in the morning with confetti stuck to my cheek and immediately began to attack the mess of crumpled wrapping paper and ribbons, the party plates with remnants of cake floating in pools of melted ice cream that littered the living and dining room area. after that, I quietly walked into ava's room. she was sprawled out and pillowless, ummistakable evidence of a birthday well celebrated. I kissed my six year-old girl on the forehead and tried to salvage what was left of the night in the way of sleep.

hello, six. you are so lucky to have her.

42 comments:

  1. happy birthday ava, you are such a beautiful girl & so fortunate to have parents that love you to pieces. this is such a sweet tribute that i thought i might get teary eyed for a minute there.

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  2. Andrea, I'm going to have to stop reading you at work. It's getting tougher and tougher to explain why I've got tears in my eyes and how they're related to something I'm supposed to be working on!

    "hello six. you are so lucky to have her."

    That's probably about the best thing I've ever read.

    Love the pictures, too!

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  3. oh this made me cry, friend. i watch my own ava getting bigger, not a baby and so sophisticated and my heart aches. your photos of ava are just lovely andrea, thank you for sharing her. 6 is certainly very lucky to welcome miss a.

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  4. wow, this is such a beautiful tribute to your daughter ava! i hope she can read this when she is an adult:)

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  5. Ava is so beautiful and this was such a wonderful post. I loved the photos.

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  6. andrea - i read your blog every now and then ( i found you from port2port) - you have such a beautiful way with words and such a deep love inside of you.

    your posts are always inspiring; whether it's your stunning photos or your descriptions of what it's like to be YOU.

    your family is one lucky bunch.

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  7. You are great! You are so right - we sometimes forget to ask those closest to us the simple questions about their tastes...
    Ava is amazing and I love way it is evident that she is her own person and you and Ward marvel in that.
    Your remark - the "current of stress so electric I'm afraid to step in water" made me smile because I have felt that way and yet could not find the words for what I was feeling.
    Happy birthday AVA!

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  8. Happy birthday Ava Girl! 6 seems so far away for my kids but I'm sure it will knock me out when it gets here.

    Man, every blog I read makes me cry today, what's up with that?

    Are you still doing Myrtle Beach? I'm assuming so, maybe if both our fams get bored we can meet in Charleston and have family get together? I'll email ya.

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  9. oh my goodness. that was so beautiful, tender and such a tear jerker--i'm fighting back tears at work! absolutely lovely...both mama and daughter.

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  10. That Ava-girl, I love her so. And that hulawife of mine, she got the goods. Great post on a great little girl by a great mother.

    Six, you don't even know what you got!

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  11. Happy birthday to Ava! this is such a great post, I love the questions, and the answers most of all. The last photo, she kinda looks like you-okay not kinda, but a lot...

    wonderful post- happy 6th!

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  12. you are so beautiful. I love reading what you write and I love your photo's.
    Happy Birthday to your little one, all the love you share will hold her in good stead.
    We are going through a house move at the moment (renting sucks) and we just had to sell out first born Gracie (1962 EK Holden) I don't know, there is big change all around......

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  13. As always, your beautiful writing fills me with love and so much wonderful emotion. Happy Birthday dear Ava, you are one lucky girl!

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  14. oh oh andrea... i have tears in my eyes.... you and ava .... so lucky to have one another and what's best about that? is that you both know this... wow. incredible.... poor five and hello six indeed!

    xoxo

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  15. *sniff*

    I miss 5, too. I miss 5-year old Matt and 5-year-old Naomi. But each new year and birthday milestone gives me another year of life to share.

    Hey lookie! I have a Blogger blog now, too :) Give Ava-girl big smoochie kisses and squeezetight hugs. And tell her I can't wait to meet 6-year-old Ava -- we've never met!

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  16. happy birthday ava!

    what a wonderful mama you are.

    lucky 6 indeed!

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  17. that is so sweet, and adorable and just lovely. You warmed my heart this morning, thank you. And yes, it sounds like six is most likely to have her, indeed.

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  18. oh how adorable, your words, her words, the pictures! thanks andrea and happy hoppy hip hip hurray SIXTH birthday to ava!

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  19. Andrea, you are so eloquent. I loved reading this post.

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  20. So beautifully written and again ...oozing with love!

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  21. sniff sniff... i love your writing and think of my own kids growing fast as i read it! i cant believe ava is 6! i feel like all of us in blog world are getting the chance to watch each others children grow up!

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  22. Those are great questions to ask - and, though I've said it before, I'll say it again: you guys seem to throw rockin' parties.

    ... and Happy Birthday to Ava! May this next year be full of laughter, fun and discovery.

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  23. happy happy birthday sweet AVA! six is LUCKY to have you:)

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  24. So, so, so beautiful. The essay and the photos. This is one of the things I love most about blogging, is that now you have captured that last day of being five and that first day of being six (as well as all her current favorites)forever in its truest emotional state. Over time, this entry (and a billion others you've written) will become the most priceless of accounts for Ava and Ezra. And you do it so beautifully, Andrea.

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  25. Happy birthday, Ava! I absolutely adored reading this! How lucky she is to have a mama like you! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Thanks for sharing this and her and you with the world. We are all better for it.

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  26. Happy birthday sweet A! It has been amazing watching her grow, not just her bodily self, but her vocabulary, interests, etc. What a sweet girl, and what a great tribute to her. 6! where have the years gone?

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  27. You take beautiful pictures."acumakiki" mentions you in a blog.

    I always enjoy finding a writer that captures my attention with words. It's like reading the first few lines of a really great book..and thinking FINALLY, something I can get into.


    I'm Haley by the way. Hello.

    Haley

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  28. How did I miss this post!? The photos, the words, are so gorgeous.

    "Hello, six. You are so lucky to have her." Ach, tears, I tell you.

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  29. you're killin' me over here, andrea.

    GOSH, you are the most amazing momma ever. your kids are so lucky to have such a fantastic lady in their life.

    what sweet words.

    happy 6 to ava, pretty girl!

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  30. I linked this on my post today. Just loved it. Photos and writing - and such heart in it. :) Your kiddo is lucky to have you. Happy 6th Ava! My Morgan just turned 7 this past Winter. It was much harder on me than the 6.

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  31. Andrea, that was so sweet.

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  32. oh my stars....I am so in love with your love....reading this makes me want to have children right....NOW! Then, when my daughter turns six, I will copy these words and post them as my own becuase they are PERFECT. Stop being perfect or I really will stalk you. I will.

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  33. Wow...possibly your most beautiful blog entry ever.

    I'm waiting for your first Novella once the kids are older. I wish I had a knack for words like you.

    Happy 6th!

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  34. a birthday so beautifully captured...six has so many wonderful possibilities!

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  35. panther pawpawJuly 31, 2006 1:57 PM

    PRICELESS...............................

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  36. awwww :)
    this post brings a big smile to my face. your words are amazing, and your photography is stunning.

    :)

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  37. I hope Ava enjoyed her birthday as much as I enjoyed reading about it. Great post.

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  38. beautiful, beautiful post...reminds me a bit of the story eleven by sandra cisneros

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  39. your words are magic! i can't believe ava is 6! happy day ava!

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  40. Great post, and as usual(although I haven't written this in ages)--fantastic photographs.

    Seriously, I am in continual awe of the level of artistry in a certain circle of parents I know--all in animation, too--or at least in close proximity. : )

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  41. I was just surfing through and just had to say that it is really good to see so much love and interest you shower on your sweet little human. It is amazing to think about how much they know and actually process.

    I am a new father looking around at other parents experiences hoping to learn a bit more than I already know.

    This was heartening.

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  42. Every night on the Eve of Sloane's birthday, I sneak into her room and sit down on the floor beside her as she sleeps. I cry and cry and say goodbye to five, six, seven. Come morning, I'm ready to say, "Hello, eight. Welcome."

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