Arisha’s Love

It was Arisha’s first birthday and except for the few weeks she went to India, she’s seen me everyday of her life. I live next door and she knows me better than any other adult besides her parents. So it was natural that at her party she would go to me in a way she wouldn’t to others. For one thing I was familiar. Several there took me for her grandmother and when I corrected the perception, Matthew said, “It doesn’t matter, she’ll love you like one. She doesn’t know the difference.” I realized what he said had truth in it,but she already has such wonderful grandparents, I dismissed it. But a few days later she was playing in my living room feeling safe enough that when her parents feigned leaving, in a ploy to get her to come home since it was bedtime, she noticed their leaving and then went on playing. It was easy to recall Matthew’s words.
I’ve seen her change from infant into toddler and witnessed all the wonders that go along with this natural progression, and barring anything unforeseen will continue to marvel at how a toddler becomes a little girl. No matter how the term is defined, it’s accurate to say I love Arisha. I’ve taken such delight in all her little daily doings of learning new words, recognizing birds, smiling at dogs and endeavoring to say my name. But it’s one thing to love her and draw joy from it, and another to have her love me–or whatever sentiment is budding within her. While just loving her, even without expectations, could be rather self serving, if she is to love me back, then loving her comes with responsibility–that means with all the other-orientedness and self forgetfulness her trust in me beckons. Arisha deserves no less.