It was a sunny winter day the first time I saw Lilyana swimming free under the water. The small pool at our Y has south-facing windows that let in afternoon sun and rays shine through the glass and white-blue concrete of the pool. I’d finally remembered to put on the swim goggles we’d bought months ago, and sticking my head under I watched as she wriggled and kicked as she figured out how to make her four year old body move downwards in a predictable way.
English has no word for the instantaneous combination of joy, delight, caring, watchfulness for threats real (water up the nose) and imagined, seeing backwards in time to all our earlier water experiences, looking forward to summers at the lake, going further back to my memories of growing up in the water, pride for all she can do, hopes that this learning and growing and play will go on and on through our lives, and awe. So much awe and gratitude that I get to be so lucky as to share this moment. Then she comes up, and I can already feel the Duchenne crinkles around my eyes and a massive grin on my face, and our eyes meet and she’s grinning too and we’re both glowing with this new.