It’s What We’re Built For

I have a 14 month old daughter who every day finds some way in her small, squirmy power to set a light to my existence. A laugh, a look, pounding after the cat across the dining room floor, or eliciting instant smiles and waves from strangers in line at the supermarket. She is joy embodied. She is life. So small, so fragile, so wholly dependent on my big dumbness that I’m thankful she’s too young to understand just how reckless such a proposition is.

I’m also 35 years old, which isn’t old, but it’s not young. And I can do simple arithmetic. 17 years. Push comes to shove, and I’m sort of surprised I’m still going moderately well at this age. I never really took care of myself, and I never really considered the future. I just sort of expected to disappear, I guess. I don’t know. It’s nebulous for me now.

But 18 more years? I would have been happy with the first 28 of them. Now I feel as if I’d kill and maim to get 17 more. I want to see my little girl grow up, at least a little bit, as much as anyone can grow up in the first 18 years of their life, and I want to see her graduate high school. Get some idea of the future, of her future, of what lies beyond that.

Can I get 18 more years? We are not meant to live forever, and I’ve seen more than a few folks I went to school with already find their way to their graves,a  few even in grades below me. Life is like that. It cuts you down. It ends. From the moment we are born, we are built to die.

I know this is my future. Someday. But as I pick up my little girl, as I give her a piece of ice cream off the tip of my finger, I don’t want it to be tomorrow. I don’t want it to be a month from now. I need just 17 more years. I need to see my little girl grow up.

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