the girl and the Genius
Sophia is nine. She has known multiple hospital beds, scary chest sounds, needles and nurses, so she says, “Isaac, when you hurt, all you have to do is think of your mother’s smile. When I’m with my daddy and I hurt, I think of my mother’s smile. When I’m at my mom’s, I think of my dad’s smile. It works.”
Then she flits off like a dove.
I watch her all weekend, her unaffected art, the lack of desire for new clothes or a hair-brushing, the freckled beauty of a long, lanky child, and I turn my head more than once for what of her is lost in me. I behold her joy.
Most people carry their souls in a deep pocket at the pit of their stomachs, but Sophia lets hers slip out to her fingertips. Hers rides on easy lips and feathers out from her shoulders to fan air at the disappointed. It is innocence and how it shirks this world, how pain is transformed to beauty.
Maybe it’s the knowledge that her straight body will shortly turn to curve and that her imagination won’t so easily delve to the floor in character play that makes me awe at her on the cusp. Sophia’s arms reach at first guess, and she offers an honest smile to the sun. She sits with paper and draws, snuggled generously with my boys.
We say goodbye to the family, and as our hearts try to pull their hooks out, I look for Sophia and want to tell her how God is a genius in her. I want to hold her face and memorize it. I want to take pictures of her feet on tiptoes and of her hair in knots, how her face is already aiming sharp for envy, and there I find her at the door to the back-porch with her hands full.
She says, “Look! A bird!” And there she cups its heart-throbbing body until it calms in the bed of her hands.
My mouth wants to say “healer,” but instead I laugh deep from the pit of my stomach until it peels through my mouth, and my back, and my hands. Like children, we arch over and study the bird, reviving and forgetting ourselves in such a sacred moment.