For as long as I can remember that question has roamed around my thoughts. Madison, you see, was one of 12. The petites they were called. When my best girls and I got together we boasted 12 children between us. We were the YaYa's, self named after falling in love with the novel, Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood and our children became known to us as Le Petites anytime we were together.
It was a glorious time of friendship spent meandering through long days of summer on park benches and sandboxes, climbing jungle gyms and running through sprinklers. We swam in lakes. We hiked trails. We feasted on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lemonade. We spread blankets at Bicycle Safety Town and let them ride circles around us until dinner was within reach. In the winter we held court at Discovery Zone and Chuck E Cheese without complaint. We belonged to each other and each of those 12 belonged to us. In every group there seems a freer spirit than the rest. That was Madison. We loved that about her.
"Where's Madison?" we asked as we did our periodical head count. It was the mission of whoever was on their feet to call the others into action and begin the search. Moments later, "We got her!" followed by "Come see what she found!" A fat caterpillar on a half eaten leaf. A silk spiderweb with freshly caught lunch ensnared. A dandelion with a burst of butter in the center. A paw print on a trail. To catch a glimpse through that girl's eye was an instant marvel to us all. Those moments also brought us to our knees in contagious laughter. An upside down girl stranded on a swing. Someone calling "Does this kid belong to any of you?" as we looked up to find our sweet Petite with undies around her ankles trying to go to the bathroom on her own.
Then there was the moment I was saying good bye for the day. She paused, turned to me and said, "I just need to take your picture in case I never see you again." I have to admit I thought she surely had a sense I knew nothing of so I kept my guard up that following week.
It's funny the things you hold on to in your heart when your littles, our petites are no longer so.
And so as they grow, as they move on, as they marry we remember the very best moments and yet ask the question once more.
On this chilly day in November I found her
in Matthiessen State Park with the boy she loves,
Down 100 stairs, across stones anchored in a shallow riverbed, atop a beautiful bridge buried deep in the forest and most importantly
in the sweetest love as Madison and Andrew share their engagement with me, I found myself following Madison once more.
Here is a smidge of my favorites.
Andrew, I believe you are the man worthy of this beauty.
I pray she remains forever in your heart so that you know exactly where she is always.
Cheers Le Petite.
We love you,