//dear amelia

At the park by the Atlanta Zoo, there’s a playground. The weather today was perfect; overcast and warm, with a breeze that smelled like autumn. I was out with two sisters plus nephew, and after a picnic under the trees we headed to the playground at my nephew’s request. We had it to ourselves, except for a little girl and her babysitter. I swung on the swing set (because you’re never too old, plus it’s therapeutic – like pillow fights, or running in the rain), letting my mind wander until the little girl ran up to the swing to my left. You faced the opposite direction and said, “I’m going to look this way and swing.”

                “You go,” I encouraged. “Do that.”

                You sat down and began slowly, swinging a few more inches each time. You were a blue-eyed, blonde-haired beauty with a pink unicorn on your shirt.

                “What’s your name?” I asked you.

                “Amelia,” you said.

                “That’s a really pretty name. I’m Mirriam. Think you can get as high as me?”

                You began to swing faster. “Yes!”

                I slowed down a little to even the odds. “How old are you?”

                “Five. I’ll be six soon.”

                “Six is a great age. That was my first zoo trip,” I told you. “I’m twenty-one.”

                I thought you might fall off the swing as you squealed, “My mom is twenty-one!” Your eyes widened. “And you still swing?”

                “I do,” I said enthusiastically. “It gets even better. Swinging at twenty-one is the best. Does your mom still swing?”

                For the first time, you looked sad. “No,” you said, shaking your head, brightening again as you added, “But she taught me how!”

                “Then you have a great mom.”

                “Yeah.” You nodded. “Moms are pretty cool, I guess.”

                “My mom is,” I agreed.

                “I have a sister,” you informed me.

                “Older, or younger?”

                “She’s one. She’s kind of boring, but it’s neat to have a sister.”

                I smiled. “Two of my sisters are over there.” I pointed them out, along with my nephew. “He’s eight,” I told you. “His birthday is soon, too.”

                “I’m having a tea party,” you told me, now nearly level with me, your legs propelling your steadily higher.

                “Oh, that sounds like fun. I used to have lots of tea parties,” I told you. “Is it like an Alice in Wonderland party?”

                “Yeah,” you said. “I have a bike.”

                I rolled with the new subject. “Do you ride it a lot?”

                “Yeah. I want to ride around you.” You pointed at the circle of pavement, dusted with wood chips from the playground.

                “Right now?”

                “Yeah!” You slowed down and jumped off the swing, racing across the playground and climbing over a few of the obstacles. I watched as you clambered onto your small blue bicycle, with silver streamers flying from the handlebars. As you began to ride around the playground, you waved at me, with a bright smile on your face.

                It was time to leave; for you and for us, but as you walked away with your babysitter you turned and shouted an enthusiastic “BYE!”

                I waved. “Bye! Have fun at your tea party!”

                Your smile was big while you pedaled away, down the curve of the sidewalk as the breeze blew leaves off the trees overhead.

                There are things I wanted to say to you. I wanted to tell you how beautiful you were. I wanted to tell you to remember this; these days of swinging on the playground and talking openly with everyone you meet. I wanted to tell you to keep that fearlessness, and that innate trust that everyone around you is good and everything around you is magical.

                I didn’t have time, and that wasn’t my job. I hope your young mother tells you those things. I hope you remember that she taught you how to swing, and I hope you find your sister interesting once she’s a little older. Maybe soon you’ll be taking her to the playground.

                I didn’t tell you these things, but I hope you remember the woman you met when you were five, and I hope you remember that swinging only gets better. I hope you remember your competition to swing higher, higher than me, and the fact you almost made it. I hope you never stop swinging. I hope you, Amelia, with your pink unicorn shirt and little blue bicycle, are always young enough to hop on the swing set and say hello to the stranger next to you.

                Thank you for meeting me, and when you’re twenty-one, I hope you’re still swinging as high as you can.


  1. this touched my heart! and you aren’t the only one to write letters to strangers…or still enjoy a good long swing…I’m twenty-two and I do both. when I meet or see a stranger (and I’m a people-watcher too) I wonder what their life is like and what their story is… you got a peek into a little 5year old’s story, and sent her good vibes…that is beautiful! thank you for sharing this little memory from today. it really made me smile :)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was so beautiful! I can’t right now. I think I like your “letter” posts muchly. :)

    And you never know the impact you can have on a child who’s a complete stranger. I was once a child like that… I remember a lady once talking to me (she may have been 21 for all I know… in any case she was “grown up” to young me) and telling me that she had once started writing a story about fairies when she was young, and had never finished it; because I had said I had started a story and hadn’t worked on it in awhile. She told me to go pull that story out, and keep writing it, and no matter what, to FINISH it. I don’t think I’d be a writer today if she hadn’t said that. Sometimes I wonder who she was.

    Little stories like this make me happy. Thanks for sharing this one. I loved “meeting” Amelia and I feel like she will remember you, in some way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My dad used to teach teens and college age students (they were all ‘grown ups’ to me.) I always wanted to go with him and be with them on their singing trips because I thought they were cool and I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could be just like them. You can never know what impact you had on this girl, but I think it is possibly likely that she will remember you when she becomes 21. I know I still remember.


  3. Oh, my gosh. I have a vision. You are the dad with his daughter and laughing when she pulls your leg. You’re going to be an //amazing// mom one day. But right now, you’re an amazing person, sister, daughter, friend, and stranger.

    And I hope on your dark days, you don’t forget that you’re beautiful. That you are better than you were yesterday. And that you can swing higher + higher. Don’t forget to have plenty of tea parties either. <3

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Dear Mirriam;

    Thanks for swinging with Amelia. Thanks for holding tight to the part of yourself that will always want to swing. Thanks for /listening/ to Amelia and meeting here where she was. You told her with your actions that /her words matter/ and that /she matters/. Thanks for being the kind of person who is /safe/ to talk to on a playground. Thanks for letting her pull you out of where you wanted to go with your time on the swings. It’s so easy to not see other people, young or old, or not be willing to switch our plans for their plans. But you never know when a koinonia moment is being gathered up in the folds of this temporal life. Only when you risk (so thanks for risking) do you find out if it’s a regular moment or one that hangs heavy with the weight of His glory.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m literally sitting here blinking back tears. This was one of the most touching things I’ve ever read.

    At 23, swinging is still a top favorite pastime of mine, and I believe holding on to that child-like wonder is one of the most important things a person can ever do in their life.

    Thank you, Mirri, for always being you, always clinging to that wonder, and always swinging higher.


  6. Lovely, memorable, sweet…. are these gentle, real moments. Serene and poignant are these meet cutes that wind our days with wonder, joy, and wishes.


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