At 4: Falling asleep in a random place and magically waking up in your bed, all covered up and somehow still feeling the kiss placed gently on your cheek by someone who cared.
At 7: Curled into your mother on the couch, being told secrets and stories to calm you down, frozen bag of peas on your lips- shuddered breathing, after violently losing both your front teeth during a fall from the top bunk, whilst amusing your brother with your gymnastic prowess.
At 11: First kiss behind the barn in the sweltering heat of July, feeling that rush of awareness that the boy you peeked at from around doorways and behind trees, noticed you in spite of your shyness and naivety.
At 14: The feeling of your best friend’s hand taking your shaking hand and leading you out of the school and to home when the mean girls came to call in middle school.
At 17: The bluest eyes you had ever fallen into, looking straight into yours and smiling the widest, happiest smile and feeling that click in your heart – knowing the path in the road had been decided for you.
At 21: Feeling the first kick and inside you and not knowing how it would end.
At 23: Holding your second miracle in your arms and staring into his eyes in awe, in the silence of the night, your heart and your soul making silent promises, feeling like there is only the two of you in the entire universe awake at that moment in time.
At 25: The sight of that same wee one suddenly seeming so large and holding your third and last miracle in his arms, looking down at his new brother with that same serious gaze he analyzes the world around him with… and then quietly weeping in gratitude as he reaches ever so gently to touch his lips to the top of his brother’s head.
At 36: Nurses asking you how many sisters you have, as every one of your far-away friends has figured out the rules, and calls the trauma unit identifying as a sister, in order to get news on your condition.
At 37: Riding 20 hours on a greyhound bus in a neck brace and walking into your mother’s house to prove to her that you are in one piece. That first careful hug and feeling her hot tears running down your back when she won’t let you go.
At 38: Laying on the couch with his hands stroking your hair while you whisper, “please don’t make me love you- I’m too broken and scared.” His promises and assurances that he will never leave.
At 48: Your brother telling you for the last time how strong and smart and capable you are. Letting you know you never once let him down or left him alone.
At 53: Loving yourself wholly and completely and allowing that love to flow freely and to be accepted freely, by the same little girl who woke up in places she didn’t fall asleep in.
The girl who can sometimes still feel the kisses and the stroking of her hair by the people who loved her before she could love herself.