“Let’s read this book, Daddy.”
Her small hand and delicate fingers were clasped around the thick pages of a book I knew all to well. We hadn’t read it in years, half her life has gone by since the last time we read it together. The words of this book have been suppressed from my consciousness, they were too emotional even back then. I can remember rocking her tiny frame in my arms and saying the words in my most animated voice, knowing she would only understand the excitement or devotion by my tone and not by word.
Now she stood in front of me while her small hazel eyes looked up and searched my face for an answer.
“Sure” I said as I walked around her big girl bed. She lifted the blankets to reveal the Mario Brothers sheets underneath and made a place for me to lay down beside her.
“I used to read this to you when you were a baby” I told her. Her eyes lit up and she pointed to a pink postcard we sent out as a birth announcement, her chubby legs peeked out from the tiny dress we had put her in for her 3 month pictures. “When I was that old?” she asked.
Now my eyes followed her finger and saw the picture of her little body, a quarter of the size it is now, and I could feel them want to fill with tears. “Yep, when you were just a little baby I used to read this book to you.” With that I started, Little Nutbrown Hare was holding tight to Big Nutbrown Hare’s ears to make sure he was listening.
I faltered. “Guess how much I love you?” I couldn’t read anymore until I regained control.
“READ Daddy!” she said impatiently. She must get that from me, her personality becoming more and more obvious as the days turn into years. “Why are you stopping?” She was oblivious to the moment I was having. “I’m trying to read, but this book is so freaking emotional for me!” I was thinking, trying to psyche myself out of it and get on with the story.
At every pause she prodded. At every prod I paused and wiped the tears from my eyes. Why am I crying, this is a stupid kid’s book about bunnies? “Wow, that is very high thought Little NutBrown Hare. I wish I had arms like that…” I continued.
I couldn’t wait for the story to end, but I knew it would take all I had in me to get through it. What was coming was always the most emotional part of the story for me. Little Nutbrown Hare tries to outdo Big Nutbrown Hare by finding something even farther away than the path that leads over the hills. And what Little Nutbrown Hare comes up with amazes even the biggest of rabbits.
“I love you all the way up…to…the moon.” There I said it. She snuggled closer to me and I could smell the strawberry shampoo in her hair. She was loving me all the way to the moon at that very moment and Big Nutbrown Hare was blown away. “Wow, that’s far.” was exactly how I felt as I looked over at her sandy blond hair and her cute pug nose. Her sweetness emanated from her. She has become a kind and caring big sister. Her artistic and creative flare was evidenced all over the walls of her room in the decorations she had made. She was so grown up. So responsible. Toys were in their place. Books lined neatly on the shelf. Dress up clothes and tutus in a basket for when she wanted to be silly or imagine herself to be a princess. I acted out the rest of the story as I read it. Cozying up to her and wrapping my strong arm around her I kissed her goodnight and whispered in her ear, “I love you all the up to the moon, and back.”