You know you love the girl when you can close your eyes and picture her, riding belted in the car with a brimming grin and a chatty verse. You know you’re smitten when you can imagine her vivid blue eyes smiling in a landscape of noise and all you can do is sigh. When the sound of her giggle moves you to lower your head and grin, you’re hexed.

Her eyes gush with life. And I don’t care to think of them in the past tense. Yet sometimes it crosses my mind. Sometimes I feel blessed to have her here with me now. I’m not supposed to think these thoughts. Of course she’ll outlive me. Of course, she’ll be the healthiest in the clan. It’s all probably true. Still, she takes me. I can imagine her. I appreciate what she radiates. I revel in the soft touch of her hand and the sass in her voice.

I have this indulgent habit of making CDs for my girls. I’ll spend hours hand-picking songs to burn onto a disc that they enjoy on their weekly trips to and from Children’s Hospital for chemotherapy and physical therapy. Inevitably, I’ll stumble across a song that hits a little too close to home. Tonight it was Patrick & Eugene’s “The Birds and the Bees.“ You may not know it by name, but you’ve probably heard it in the new Volkswagen Rabbit commercial. I thought it would be a whimsical end to my latest spin masterpiece. And it is, except when I played it back, I started crying. The emotion poured over me like the first sip of a good wine. It was pleasant, and intoxicating. I pictured my girls riding around in Nettie’s Jeep Liberty, both of them smiling. I pictured Jordan in the back seat singing along, only getting every few couple of words – a habit that annoys her brother. And I could not control the sobs.

I love this child. She is filled with a charm that overwhelms my senses. She is stylish and sincere, innocent and wily, spirited and fragile. I cherish growing with her and imagining her in many life situations. I dream of her as a teenager, mother, and grandmother. I am filled with anxiety that my dreams are vaporous – that every memory and observation is precious and must be perfectly archived so that one day I can tell others about her. I hate that feeling. It’s the lingering scent of reality that every so often invades the vision of the girl; the muse. It’s the theory of predestination applied to our family life – a sense of meaning and purpose rendered empty by the threat of absence.

I never know what to do with this feeling, so I tuck it away, until it will not recess.