Olivia entered this world on August 18th 2007, at 2.46 in the morning. She arrived quietly, a peaceful beginning. I looked at her. She looked at me. And I knew my life was going to be extraordinary.
She was surrounded by love from Day One. Her Oma paced outside my room, waiting for the first chance to hold her. Our friends arrived, baby in tow. So many friends and family wanted to see her and touch her and be with her. At home, her Daddy would hold her until either she or he fell asleep, waking to pass her to another eager pair of arms. Grandfathers. Aunties. Uncles. Friends. Grandmothers.
She grew in size, and she grew in character. Now no longer an infant but a little baby. Her first smiles at herself in a mirror, what we can now clearly identify as a trend. Her first tea at the Windsor Arms. Her first Halloween, dressed up thanks to a now dominant nickname: Pumpkin. Punkie Punkin. Punkers. Her first flight. Her first visit to England. Her first Christmas.
She grew into herself, and she grew in personality. From a baby came a delightful little girl. She had hair like mine and her Dada’s eyes. Sometimes green. Sometimes grey. Sometimes hazel. She developed a love of nomming on other peoples jewellery and swimming in cold water.
But then there was a day trip to Disney and something sparked in her like a firework. She had a fierce love of Mickey and Minnie, much to my chagrin, because I knew that when I was a parent, I’d never stoop to such commercialism. Ha. I didn’t have much choice in the matter. From that moment onwards, we were raising a princess. Not in the worst sense of the word, but in the best; Kind. Sweet. Loving. Giving. Inclusive. Brave. Selfless.
One of my favourite memories is of taking her to the Bibbiddi Bobbiddi Boutique at the age of 3 1/2. There, a Godmother in Training would give her a tasteful and age appropriate princess makeover. Well, maybe not so much. Mortifyingly, she chose an enormous plasticy wig instead of the beautiful princess bun, and I cringed that her “unique” choice would reflect on our parenting. Well, I’m glad to say that it did reflect on our parenting; we taught our daughter to be true to herself. To give no mind to what others thought. That she could be anything she wanted to be. To be brave and unique. That sparkling is a state of mind as well as a dress choice. And she did not simply walk that day, or for any of the days that followed. From that point on she always skipped.
So many memories of her. Picking apples with Grammy. A flower girl at her Uncle and Auntie’s wedding. On safari in Oma’s garden. Wandering down to the hen house in her jammies, clutching an egg basket. Playing “beans” in the pantry. Feeding the chipmunks while camping.
Playing with her cousins and her friends. Dancing on stage at the mini-disco on vacation. Going to the zoo and Wonderland over and over and over and over. And over. All of her treasured princess dresses scattered on the floor and she tries on yet another one. Cuddling with Dada.
She grew in love, and she grew in beauty. From a little girl came a little lady. She looked so much like me I’d often just stop and stare at the way she tilted her head or set her jaw. She was the best of me, and the best of her Daddy distilled and refined. But by now we didn’t just have one tiny lady in the house, we had two. And Olivia was simply the very best big sister. When Olivia met Aurelia, she looked at her as if she was opening the most amazing present. She would touch her and hold her and coo over her. We knew that Olivia’s life was forever changed in that moment, and we talked about what a lovely, busy household we would have and dreamed of grandchildren and full tables at Christmas.
I was her “best Mumma”. We talked about everything. We argued over makeup. We talked about boys. She told me all about her wedding. She said that when she had a baby, it was going to be a boy. We talked about how stars are made and how babies are made and what is god and why people are happy and why they are sad. After an incident at Kindergarten, she asked me why people can be mean. I told her that it’s just because they don’t have enough love in their hearts, and we need to give those people extra love to fill them up. She nodded and told me that she was going to give the little girl a hug tomorrow so that she would be full of love. My brave girl. She loved her school and she adored her teachers and daycare workers. She would bring back reams and reams of paper covered with pictures of bunnies, rainbows, and the words she wanted to learn first. Olivia. Mumma. Dada. Love. And every time I came to pick her up she’d be dancing.
And Daddy was her “best Dada”. I fell in love with my husband in 2002, but I really, REALLY fell in love with him in 2007. I have never been so privileged as to witness such a deep and loving bond between father and daughter. I might think that I love her, but he LOVES her. She is his world, and his reason. And she adored him. He played tea. He played dress up. He saw her through every triumph, every illness, every quiet moment and joyful play. If she had my hair, she had his sense of humour and love of cartoons which they indulged at almost every point in time. I would sometimes hide in the kitchen and sneak glances at those quiet times, cuddled in Dada blanket on the couch, lost together.
Olivia left this world on December 26th 2012, in the early morning. She left quietly, a peaceful ending. I looked at her. And I knew my life was going to be extraordinary.
I might not have been able to clap at a graduation, meet her boyfriends, sit and cry in the front row of a wedding, or cradle her baby. But I have so, so much to hold on to. My little girl will always believe in Santa. She will always believe in fairies. She will always believe that becoming a Princess is a reasonable career aspiration. I will always be her sun and Daddy will always be her prince. And she will always be five. Singing loud. Dancing often. Loving fiercely. Our joy. Forever.