Her name means clear, bright, shining. . .

Clare.

Her name means clear, bright, shining, brilliant to the sight. She sparkles, scintillates, always has.

I close my eyes, lean back in my chair. Looking down the bedroom hallway, she’s there in mind’s eye, prancing along with her stuffed sidekick, a pony she named Shadowfax.

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She had such love for ponies. The summer she was eight, our family vacationed in Estes Park. As our car passed a roadside corral near our hotel, she pressed her nose to the window and caught a glimpse of a brown and white pony. She cast adoring eyes on his beauty, locked him in her gaze until our car curved around the mountain road.

She turned from the window with impossibly long-lashed, expressive eyes. “If I owned that pony,” she said with a wistful sigh, “I know what I’d call him – his name would be Melting Snow.”

Melting Snow, a name so poetic, it still enchants me. It’s a rare privilege when a creative child lifts the veil just enough to allow a glimpse of her world, of what she sees through shining eyes. Melting snow, first sign of spring. . .

Our little dreamer was not born in spring, but in the white snows of February. I called her my early Valentine, loved that her birth flower is the violet, sweet harbinger of spring.

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A sketch of violets I drew and began embroidering for a pillow for Clare’s room. I got off to a good start, but, alas, I set it aside in the busy whirl of life, and forgot about it until I unearthed it a few years ago.

 

Clare is five years younger than her brother, James, and eight years younger than her sister, Margaret. As a former teacher and lover of children’s literature, Clare’s arrival bequeathed me an extra six or seven delicious years of story time. She’d curl into my lap like a kitten in fuzzy, footed jammies, then off we’d fly to Neverland. We’d visit Heidi’s mountain, or slip into the shadowy barn at twilight to watch Charlotte spin her wondrous web. Clare and I traveled fast and far. (She remains a voracious reader whose most prized possession is her fine and ever-growing collection of books.)

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When Clare was growing up, we sang and danced as often as we read. At four, she’d waltz around the living room singing “Once Upon a Dream” from Sleeping Beauty. When she was five-going-on-six, she’d sing “Where is Love?” from the musical, Oliver! every night while I dried her hair. Other special favorites were “The Riddle Song” and “The Owl and the Pussycat” by John Rutter and The Cambridge Singers.

Over Christmas break of her fourth grade year, I took Clare and her friend, Morgan, to see Phantom of the Opera. Clare, a confirmed aficionada of musical theatre, was mesmerized and saw the movie several more times. Later, she rather shyly told me she could sing “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.” I must admit, I was skeptical; after all, she was only ten. But I asked her to sing it for me.

“Don’t watch, Momma,” she said, and walked out to our sunroom. There, in the dim light of evening, arms at her sides, she began to sing. I was unprepared for the clear soprano voice that belied the singer’s age, soaring to the song’s most poignant notes, filling my heart, and my tear ducts. . .

She’ll be twenty soon, this child who has brought so much light and joy to our lives, this child who is no longer a child. Clare – clear, bright, and shining, whose playful, ethereal presence, though unseen, was palpable before she existed.

I remember it so well, that sun-dappled spring afternoon. Our children were at play.

Jeff and I leaned together on the front steps of our first house, a pale yellow clapboard nestled on a wooded cul-de-sac. We watched as seven-year-old Margaret and four-year-old James clambered in and out of their shiny red Radio Flyer wagon, taking turns tugging one another up and down the long sidewalk.

Cardinals called from the treetops, butterflies fluttered in the garden, golden light dripped like honey through the leaves of our flowering crab. The infectious giggles of our merry two made us smile.

As we watched our children frolic in the sunlight that April afternoon, I heard a distinct inner voice.

Someone isn’t here who should be, the voice said. Someone’s missing.

I made no remark to Jeff at the time, but the words I heard interiorly stayed with me. This lovely day, this moment in time, perfect and beautiful as it was, whispered of beauty yet to come.

Roses blossomed, acorns dropped, snowflakes sailed the skies.

Less than a year later, our precious daughter, Clare, was born. In the quiet hours that followed her birth, I confided to Jeff what I heard on that balmy spring day while Margaret and James frolicked in their red wagon.

Jeff looked at me for a moment in stunned silence. “Amy,” he said. “I can’t believe it….. That’s exactly what I heard, that same day.”

We stared at one another in wonderment, then looked down at our newborn child. . .

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That’s how our darling daughter came to be – our someone-who-was-missing, the little rosebud who fit into our arms, just so, to complete our family’s joy. . .

Clare – brilliant to the sight. She lights up a stage, sings like a lark, writes up a storm, lives life with wide open arms. Like the sea, like the sky, she has depth and strength and beauty and unlimited possibilities. She’s going somewhere, although I can’t know where – not just yet; her story is just unfolding.

But I do know this: she is well on her way.

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Happy birthday to you, dearest Clare,

A bright future awaits you. May you embrace your journey with unbounded joy, with your characteristic sparkle, with all the love in your heart. Dream of life, then live your dream.

Shine on.

I love you, my littlest one, always and always. xoxox

~Momma

22 thoughts on “Her name means clear, bright, shining. . .

  1. So much beauty in this post. So much on which to comment. First, what a wonderful message to receive. How divine you were open to it. And this little soul entered our world. The books? I can so relate. I love escaping into other worlds with my son. And your embroidery? I hope you finish. It’s stunning! Thanks, Amy, for this gem today.

    • Thank you, dear Kristine. It truly was remarkable, that whispered message. It caused a sweet and ordinary day to last forever. And oh yes, what would we do without books? They’re nothing short of miraculous. As to my embroidery, I do hope I can find the time to focus on completing it. Lately, I’ve focused on writing and photography, and my sewing, which I love, has taken a back seat. This vexes me, because I treasure those quiet hours with my needle. Need to set aside at least part of a day each week for needlework.

      I so appreciate your kindness, and even more, your friendship. xox

  2. my breath, once again, is taken away by your lilting truth-telling. the whisper that both you and jeff heard. the unfolding of this beautiful beautiful tale. everyone who whirls in your breeze, your wake, everyone is blessed by the blessing that is you…..

    thank you for this beautiful star-bestrewn moment….

    • And thank you, my beloved Barbara, for witnessing with me the story of how a twinkling star fell from heaven and into our waiting arms. You bless me with love, and I bask in that glow. Hugs to you, my friend. xoxox

    • Lindsey, my beautiful weaver of words, who made me so wish to stop being afraid and step out into the ether, your tears are precious to me. I treasure this love we share for our darling children – a love that transcends time. I love standing here with you to admire their incandescent beauty. Thank you for these birthday wishes today. Blessings and love to you and your dear ones~ xoxo

  3. Amy, you do this so wonderfully well. This mothering, this writing, this painting of such glorious pictures in words. Very Happy Birthday Wishes to your lovely daughter, who seemed to blossom before my eyes as I read this, and to you Dear Mother who squeezed my heart and left me in tears of joy. Ever so thankful our ‘kindred spirits’ have recognized each other. ♥

    • Thank you, dear Tamara. It seems my little rosebud blossomed before my eyes as quickly as she did before yours. I’ve so enjoyed these first twenty years of her life, and I’ll always cherish the days of her childhood. I, too, am thankful to have discovered you, a true kindred. Much love to you~ xox

    • I love that Melting Snow melted your heart as it did mine, Ellen. Ah, childhood – the supreme enchantment. Thank you so much for these birthday wishes and for your kindness. Blessing to you and yours~ xox

  4. I am going to have a most beautiful, and most grateful day. All for reading this lovely post. I do so wish I could put words together like you Amy. But the next best thing is reading your blog, and saying “yep, that’s exactly how I feel”.

    • Oh, Joanne, how lovely of you! Thank you for sending this message. I’ll be smiling all day, thinking of you having a day filled with beauty and gratitude. Wishing you this and many, many more. xoxo

  5. Could any child ask for a more precious gift than this? A word portrait painted with such love and care, such deep knowing, deep seeing. Belated birthday wishes to Clare, and blessings to you, dear mom, dear friend.

  6. Wow … wow, wow … don’t know how this slipped past me, but just this moment I found it in the WP reader and was completely mesmerized. What a beautiful tribute to this fine woman you’ve raised. How blessed she is to have a mother who sees — and hears — the world as you do.

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