Clearly, the pictures above are of the same person. With just a few years in between the time that they were taken. What I'm not going to post (so that we may remain on speaking terms), is the picture of a time in-between. As most children do, my daughter went through a phase where she didn't look, or feel like herself. Where she only saw what was reflected back from the mirror, along with a hundred other imagined things.
The picture on the right was taken this past weekend, at her Senior prom. All the myriad details of dress shopping, getting her nails done, finding the perfect pair of shoes led to this one perfect moment, where her laugh is open, uncontained, and full of joy. Joy in knowing that not only did she look good, but felt good. Because she was with a group of people that she cares about. Because we had five of the girls come over to our house, and they did each others' hair and make-up while sharing stories and anticipation. Because although this was her last prom, and hence bittersweet, she had arrived at this point, intact and thriving.
The childhood laugh is in the moment, the one on the right was earned. Earned by being hurt, but moving on anyway. By realizing that you work hard to get what you want. That friends are extremely important, but your family is fundamental to your well-being. By losing loved ones, and honoring them by loving life.
My hope, as she is getting ready to graduate is this: that she can add another picture, taken thirty years from now, with laugh lines forming parentheses on either side of her face, eyes lined and crinkled at the corners with the same laugh, and a whole lot of living in-between.
Because the more things change, the more we want of the same.