I glimpsed a tiny piece of Heaven last week.
Or at least the purity intended on earth that more often than not goes wasted.
No, I didn’t have an out-of-body experience. I simply watched my Athena attend early pre-K for the first time.
I was nervous. Although Athena has slowly progressed through some of her developmental delays, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. Would early schooling swallow her whole? All week my stomach twisted in knots; as a parent, I’ve discovered there’s nothing more vulnerable than witnessing your child slowly wade out into the great & mysterious beyond.
But soon you must come to terms that even the smallest of birds are born with wings.
As my wife & I walked Athena to school, my mind drifted back some three plus years. When my wife was pregnant, I believed wholeheartedly that a girl would be born into my world. It was as though the universe sensed my desperate need for balance. Although I still had not looked upon her with my own eyes, I knew what she would be & what she was to become. A strong, wise, beautiful woman whose strength & independence would carry her through the toughest of times & serve to inspire those near. A woman who would cast a most indelible glow upon this world. So I named her Athena. My little goddess.
I can’t imagine life without her now. She is my life. The center of my cosmos. My sunshine.
It’s so hard developing a career as a horror writer while her gentle grace & beauty touches me, fills me, every day.
Athena simply glowed that morning of her first day to school. Her smile could not be erased. Even under the weight of a Dora backpack double her size, nothing would stop this girl. Instantly, my fears melted. Watching her march to school, I realized, with great awe & admiration, that at only 3 years of age, Athena was already living up to her namesake.
It is said that when one dies, one shall see key moments of their life roll before their darkening eyes as a new light illuminates. Of course, I cannot say if this is true. If it is, I am prepared. I’m prepared for the dark times in my life that of which I am least proud, days & moments I now wish I could take back. Live a different way. I’m prepared for my accountability. But I do hope I get to relive the treasures I’ve witnessed one more time, the very best saved for last before my eyes slip shut and, if allowed, take them with me from this life to the next. Something new has been added to my cherished collection:
Athena approached the main entrance to the school. The doors swung open, revealing nine small bodies huddled in a circle, and in unison, their curious faces broke into jubilant smiles. I’ve seen few things brighter. Here were children with delays similar as my daughter, yet their expressions spoke nothing of the sort. After an introduction from her new pre-K teacher, my daughter was, in fact, swallowed whole. By pure, radiant love.
The children took Athena by the hand & welcomed her to school – welcomed her, in an odd yet special way, home – as if they’d been awaiting her arrival for some time. My wife & I barely had a chance to hug & kiss her before she was swept away in their embrace. The only thing greater than that moment was my daughter’s own radiance. Then, as the doors slowly closed behind her, I glimpsed that tiny piece of Heaven.
Cherub faces plump with joy. Sparkling eyes brimming with wonderment. Children who knew nothing of the labels diagnosed them. Fresh faced, innocent children being…well, just being as they were intended to be.
Inside each of them, they were their own Zeus. Their own Athena.
There are many things & experiences I’ve left to learn of this world. Many secrets & wonders, I’ve discovered, left in plain sight, if one only views life free of dark shades. And perhaps like me, you will discover among us little gods & goddesses, possessing statures far greater than we could ever imagine.