She’s only 75 feet away from me but I know that she has gone further. Much further.

She’s with a group of kids we met just a few days ago. This amalgamation of youth is camp magic: 5 + 2 + 3 + 1 = 11 children, ages 3 to 12; separate clusters now established as a pack. I hear her voice lifting above the indistinguishable murmur of sopranos and altos. They are gathering sticks to roast marshmallows. Her words are an incomprehensible string, but her timbre is unmistakeable. She sounds thrilled.bonfire

The screened porch is my observation deck. I trust that I am unseen in the shadows of the gloaming. She is holding hands with two girls, a forever friend and one newly minted. They are skipping together. Their giggles tinkle on the breeze.

She is delighted by this spoonful of independence.

I am struck with melancholy for the baby she was. She who clung to my breast in what I grimly referred to as my “fourth trimester,” who flatly refused to acknowledge strangers’ salutations even when prompted by a parent, whose outraged screams reverberated in my head long after I had departed from her daycare.

She’s growing up. She’ll need me less in some ways, more in others. My heart swells and minutes pass as I stand motionless.