Claire is known in our family for her whole-body hugs. She will wrap her arms and legs tightly around you and squeeze you until her whole body shakes. She emanates love.
She wants nothing more to love and be loved. She will never turn down a hug -- even from people she doesn't know well. She gives her classmates hugs almost every day and just yesterday she hugged a nice man who we frequently see at our favorite restaurant hangout. I don't even know his name. But she hugged him goodbye.
When we stroll the aisles of the grocery store, you'll find her waving and saying "hello" to nearly every person that walks by. In a matter of minutes, she had elicited smiles from an elderly woman, a middle-aged man and a 20-something with a jet black mohawk and a nose ring. In that moment, I could not have felt more proud. You could tell the surprising show of affection from this little girl took them off guard. Their smiles were genuine and as they walked away from us, I like to think they kept smiling.
She was spreading joy one aisle at a time.
Grace radiates an essence that I can't quite describe. She is full of life -- experiencing all of its ups and downs with passion. This essence draws you in, entangles you and leaves you feeling like you are in the presence of something truly delightful.
When I found this picture the other day, it struck me. Arms wide open, welcoming us into her life that is so full of … well, life.
Her mind is so unrestricted -- she sings the way she wants to sing, makes up her own words as she's creating a story about her "other mom" and "mami the cow," dances the way she wants to dance.
She's always been so true to herself. She doesn't let her differences make her feel less -- she wears them as a badge of honor. It's a quality I hope she keeps forever.
In fact, the other day, we were reading the book "Chicka, Chicka 123" and at the very end, there is a list of every number from 0 to 100. Claire sat there and with minimal help pointed to each number and counted to 100. Grace, who has little interest in counting just to count, cannot count that high. But she wanted to give it a try. So, she started at zero and after #13, started singing the rest, something to the effect of "4, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 3."
After she was done, she beamed. So proud of herself.
The glow of that smile reached deep into my heart and I couldn't help but smile at my spirited, radiant little girl.