This weekend Jennie was in town with her youth group, so we stole her away for dinner Saturday night. It seems impossible, but she hasn't been down since that disastrous Spring break (funny, that she wouldn't want to rush back after all the fun we showed her that time, huh?), so she hadn't, until this weekend, actually met Sophia.
I don't think she's been intentionally staying away from us, but Jennie's just about to start her senior year. This summer she got a job, and her life is very very full of friends and FFA and a new driver's license, and all the things that fill one's life when you're 17 and beautiful and revving up to take on the world.
We drove to an unfamiliar part of town to collect her, and found a pizza place nearby. It was small and hole-in-the-wall-ish, but the pizza turned out to be really good. We crammed ourselves into a tiny booth, passed Sophia around, and ate pizza and talked.
I was quiet, I suppose. The truth is, I should admit, that I'm intimidated by Jennie. I have been since I met her, and she was a serious-eyed twelve year old then. When Clay and I went out on our very first date, we ended up back at his house, and he showed me pictures of his family. When he pulled out the pictures of Jennie, he said, "She looks like me," and for a moment there flashed across his face such a look of love and longing for this girl, his daughter. And I felt a shaky moment of doubt, because she is so much a part of him...and I would have to find my place with both of them.
Sitting across the table from Jennie Saturday, I looked at her and wondered about that. She held Sophia, and I wished I had a camera. Sophia had her hand tangled in Jennie's long hair (red, at the moment), strands of it gripped in the damp folds of her fist. Jennie winced and pried Sophia's fingers open, slid her hair free. Sophia craned her neck to look up at her, curious. Their noses are the same, identical down to the upside-down teardrop nostrils. Jennie smiled down at her, Sophia made another grab for her hair.
Two girls. One is nearly a woman, poised and reserved. The other my baby, so close that I smell her on my skin. The bookends of my children. They are each their own mystery to me.
Let me not fail either of them.