Dance like no one is watching

SPLOSH! The mud goes flying all over. Annie squeals in delight as she watches it spray her brand new, bright yellow rain boots and her red polka dotted raincoat. Marie sighs. “This can’t be my daughter. Surely there was a mix-up at the hospital.” Marie is the polar opposite of this care free child skipping happily a few steps ahead of her. For as long as Marie can remember, she had always been a careful person. Even as a child, she watched where she sat, wiped down her new shoes and absolutely hated it when the wind blew her hair out of place. It just made total sense that God would give her a daughter like Annie who shone the light on the lighter side of life.

Annie was Steve and Marie’s miracle child. They had tried to conceive naturally for the longest time but never got lucky. They didn’t have the funds or the emotional capacity to go through rounds of IVF, but Marie wanted a child and Steve wanted to see Marie happy. They saved up enough for one round of IVF and decided that if this didn’t happen, they would be happy just being with each other. The OB/GYN warned them to not get their hopes up too high. Rarely do first rounds of IVF work, he said. That first round was all they had to go on though, so Marie poured all her hopes into it. A year later, they were blessed with this beautiful bundle of joy. They named her Annie. She brought them so much happiness, they could no longer fathom how they had even considered being happy without her.

Annie was a boisterous little munchkin. Her smile could melt the coldest heart and she never met a person she didn’t like. If Marie was shy, Annie was anything but. She could walk up to a stranger and strike up a conversation like she had known them for years. People young and old warmed up to her in minutes. Annie was actually the one who helped Marie develop a social network, else she would have probably stayed ensconced in the corner of a coffee shop, reading a book, oblivious to the world bustling around her.

Annie broke into Marie’s reverie. “Mama” she said excitedly “we should get you a matching polka dotted rain coat and yellow shoes like mine and then everyone will know you’re my Mommy.” Marie nearly choked on the image of herself in that combination but managed to grin and say “But hon, you look so much cuter than I ever will.” Annie blushed and said “you’re right, that I do.” No modesty, this child! Marie sighed again as they walked on.

It was still pouring when they got home. Steve was working late so Marie made their favorite dinner – cheese grits and poached eggs. Breakfast for dinner always made Annie giggle and Marie loved the sound of her laughter! It was only 6:30 pm by the time they were done and Annie had another hour and 30 minutes before bedtime. She was bouncing off walls. Marie pulled her close and planted a kiss on her head in the hopes of calming her down. Annie snuggled up to her, smelling her perfume. It spelled Mommy. They stayed this way for 5 whole minutes, which in Annie world was an eternity. Soon she started to fidget.

“So what should we do now Mama?” Annie asked, her blue eyes twinkling, not an ounce of sleep in them. Marie was about to suggest cuddling in bed with a book, when Annie ran to the window and exclaimed “It’s still raining! Let’s have a pajama rain party!” Uh oh. Marie quickly ran through her short list of options to dissuade where this was headed, but then a small voice in her head said ‘Annie will only be 6 just once and life is too short to not have fun.’ “OK Ms Annie, let’s do it!” Marie said animatedly “You lead.” With that, the two of them ran out into their muddy backyard and the pouring rain. Marie danced around like never before. She was so caught up in the moment, she didn’t notice Steve’s car pull up, or hear his door shut or even see him as he stood under the porch, a slow smile spreading on his face as he watched his two favorite ladies in the whole wide world, soaked to the bone and giggling like teenage girls.

The picture he took that night on his iPhone proudly sits on their mantle today in a Little Mermaid frame. Annie is now 21 years old and on a trip through Europe with her friends, taking a year off to travel the world. Steve and Marie sit on the couch, feet tucked under a  blanket as they leaf through album titled “Annie’s Big Life”. Annie has always had a larger than life persona and they see great things in her future. They smile tenderly as they look at how their little miracle baby has grown into a beautiful, confident young woman.

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