Here the light hits the wind-brushed waves of the water and reflects like jewels. Here the osprey flirt and dive for fish.
It’s quiet here. The reeds shuffle restlessly. The sun is warm but not hot. The water laps at the four docks resting on the lake’s edges.
Our canoe glides through the water with our golden lab paddling off its bow. Two little girls sit on the floor in the center, one with a paddle. The other is nestled in her life jacket, quiet.
She looks strikingly similar to another little girl who sat there 18 years ago.
That little girl, with her blond curls and round face, was hope. She was joy for our family. She brought newness and the fulfillment of a dream long fought for. “This is berry, berry fun!” she said struggling to hold onto the yellow handle of a paddle she dipped in the water.
It was the day she came to our house for the first time. They warned us what to expect, and I didn’t believe them. She’s too happy and sweet, I thought. I remember her taking my hand and telling me, “I like you.”
Looking back, it seems like yesterday. It’s strange to think how it all turned out. How that joy turned to struggle, which turned to pain, which turned to heartache. How hard we fought for her and how easy it was for her to look away. How, despite it all, I still have hope for her.
I glance back at the two-year-old who has taken her place. I pray that she doesn’t have her mother’s future. I pray her mother diverts course.
I pray for joy out of ashes.