I was riding my bright orange bike down the quiet, still streets of our suburban neighborhood. Pedaling as fast as my newly eight year old legs could go, relishing the wind whipping through my dishwater blonde hair.
It was my birthday. And I was taking a ride to pass the time until my party.
Mama always made sure that birthdays in our home were extraordinarily special. We’d spend the weeks prior to the big day pouring over the Wilson's cake decorating book, carefully selecting which sugar laden masterpiece would be the chosen one that year.
For this day we’d chosen a princess castle. Pink frosting all over with sugar cone turrets. Mama crafted icing maidens and a candy mote. The kitchen was filled with pink streamers and balloons. The table lined with gifts. Mama had a way of creating magic out of thin air. When she believed in you, anything really was possible. It was incredible. And I was happy.
I don’t have many crystal clear memories from my childhood but that bike ride stands out. I felt as light as air. Like anything in the world was possible. I zig zagged my bike up and down the road, singing to myself, happy and free.
Nothing could touch me.
I didn’t know it then but that day would be the last of my care free ones.
The last time I knew that mama could make everything better. The last time I'd believe that magic was real. That bike ride, the feeling of flying, free as a bird. I remember it like yesterday.
Maybe there’s a reason the memory is so strong. Maybe that was God’s tender mercy for my eight year old spirit. After all, He knew what was coming. He sent me here to go through it, to learn from it. To survive it. And maybe, to light the way for others.