It was one of those things that happen when you're not expecting anything to happen.
Much less what happened.
Good grief, you may be thinking. What on earth happened?
It won't seem like a big thing to you. But then, you weren't there.
Allow me to elaborate.
A couple of weeks ago Dagny and I were out back by the pool with several other family members. The two of us were sitting on the new black swing in some early-fall, late-afternoon shade.
As we swayed, she was mentioning her notice of avian activity in the area.
Saaaaaa birdie, she said. Pointing up for emphasis.
The wingy things flitted and perched and called and twittered, happy in the sky and in the branches of the tall pines and especially the big oak.
Then my own little thing turned to me. I glanced down at her. She looked straight into my eyes.
You want a kiss? she asked, matter-of-factly. With no warning or preamble and within no particular context. I'd give anything if you could have seen her face.
(And heard her voice. She has a southern drawl; "kiss" is two syllables mashed into one. Keeyus.)
I said I sure would.
Dagny neither puckers nor smacks. She simply lifts her face, lips parted. Her kisses are so brief, you have to be paying attention or you'll later think you imagined it.
No more than a whisper-touch. But so sweet, too much would be almost unbearable.
We settled back and swayed a time or two more. She looked up at me again.
You want a hug? she said. Like, to go with that?
It happened pretty fast but my eyes had a chance to mist. I said yes.
Up drifted her tiny white arms. Like her kisses, her hugs at such times are minimalist, sometimes barely qualifying as an actual embrace.
(When in extremis, she clings and can become quite the barnacle. In non-alarming times, she's much more casual.)
But Dagny's pretty squared away in the display-of-affection department. She knows to put her hands around your neck and bend her head so as to ensure hug-like pressure from her cloud-soft cheek to yours.
That was it. That's what happened.
I hope you won't accuse me of hyperbole when I say, it was a profound experience. It was only later, after Dagny had gone home, that I realized how profound.
While drifting off to sleep that night, I relived it. A few tears of joy may have dropped onto my pillow. Much like the ones in my eyes right now. And I knew I would never forget Dagny's two questions, and that I wouldn't trade the memory for any amount of money, or even for more time in which to remember.
So that's pretty much it.
But in perilous times when so much is at stake; when there is so much to be gained and so much to be lost hinging on the actions of so few, so soon; when merely cruising by a news channel for less time than it takes for a Dagny kiss makes you feel as though you require not just a shower, but to be hosed down with industrial-strength antiseptic, it's memorable to encounter innocence.
And it's necessary to remember every day as we encounter the mercy and grace of God, Who blesses us as Americans with more peace and freedom before breakfast than many people of the world experience in their entire lives, that in this very moment and a few critical moments to come, there is a great deal to be fought for.
And a whole lot to be fought against. Don't forget that part.
I love to sit on my front porch, which gives me a lofty remove from the street, and watch the cars go by. There aren't many; ours is a quiet neighborhood for one so large.
The boughs of the just-orange-yellow-reddening oak sigh while acorns pop off by the handfuls and dive-bomb the roof. The hummingbird feeder hangs still and ruby-like, no tiny beaks nosing around. Although we're having Indian Summer, the hummers have all gone for this year.
When I'm expecting one or more of the children to arrive for a visit or a meal, I watch as each car approaches around the bend for the make and model I recognize.
I thrill to see the gray Honda with the pink backseat front-facing car seat containing the only grandchild (of four) that I get to see enough of. The other three, I'm forced to miss most of the time although they are never far from my mind and always in my heart.
Audrey tells me that Dagny has taken to saying Hi dawling, when they come around the bend and she sees me waving from the porch.
That's because when she walks through our door, often the first thing I say is Hi, darling!
Unless I call her by one of her other many pet appellations: Sugar, Sugarlips, Little Love, Angel Heart, Sweet Thing, Punkin' Girl, Peanut, Precious Beautiful, et cetera. You get it.
Or I just say, Hey Luvvy.
Because when it comes to these little ones, the little ones with the great big hearts, the ones so as-yet unravaged by the things that will one day inevitably hurt them, that's what it's all about. Just love.
And that is what I wish you today.
And that is all for now.