The silver minivan swung to the left, each tire bumping in quick succession over a gentle curb onto the driveway.
“Home!” Maizie cheered from the backseat, clapping her hands in delight.
Jenn glanced at her in the rearview mirror as she pulled up to the white picket fence that edged the parking pad and enclosed their backyard. She smiled at her wiggling daughter, who glowed in the clear spring light that beamed through the window.
“I have something special to show you when we get out,” she offered as a tease.
Maizie gasped softly. “What is it, Mommy?”
“The first sign of spring.” Jenn turned off the car, hopped out, and opened her daughter’s door. Maizie held out her arms for another hug, even though she’d been hugged, kissed, and carried to the car like a koala after preschool.
Jenn kissed her soft, five year old cheek and unbuckled the chest strap. “Can you climb out yourself? There you go. Okay, come with me, sweetie pie!”
They walked hand in hand across the front yard, which was currently clad in a mixture of dry, winter grass and fresh, delicate blades of new growth. Maizie hopped along sideways as her mother led her to the surprise.
Jenn stopped at the edge of the flower bed that ran along their brick house. “Okay, kneel down right here.”
Maizie dropped to her knees and began to skim her fingertips across the ground, traveling over mulch until they reached the base of a plant. Her eyebrows jumped a fraction at her discovery. She slid her fingers up the thin leaves until she reached the top. “A flower,” she whispered.
Jenn knelt beside her. “Mm-hmm. It’s a daffodil, and it’s the very first flower to bloom in our yard this year.”
Maizie’s fingers explored the flower since her eyes could not; she slowly moved over the ruffled edges of the bell shaped corona; she swirled a tiny tornado around the fuzzy anthers and giggled; then she grabbed one petal between her thumb and pointer finger to keep track and counted the six petals.
“It’s so pretty, Mommy,” she cooed without letting go. Then she closed her eyes and leaned forward, inhaling deeply. “Mmm, and it smells like honey!”
“It sure does. Daffodils are my favorite flower because they’re the first to break through winter’s dreary spell.”
“Then they’re my favorite, too!” Maizie hopped with excitement, and her knees landed on the flower with a crunch. Her smile faded as she quickly hunted for the daffodil again, finding it this time on the ground with a bent stem. Her chin wobbled as tears sprang to her eyes.
Jenn rubbed her back for reassurance. “It’s okay, sweetie. Here, I’ll pick it for you where the stem is bent.” She snapped the stem and placed it in Maizie’s hand. “Now it’s officially your flower. We can put it in a vase when we go inside.”
The smile slowly crept back onto the little one’s face as she held it under her nose.
Jenn stroked her daughter’s soft brown curls. “And now I have another surprise: We are going to have a picnic out here today!”
“Yay, I love picnics!”
“Okay, let me go grab the stuff. It’s all prepped in the kitchen.” Jenn brushed off her jeans and scurried into the house.
Maizie laid down on her back on the winter-spring grass and held the daffodil close to her face. She dragged the flower in a circle up her cheek, across her forehead, down the other cheek, and over her chin. She wiggled her nose like a little bunny and giggled. “That tickles, you silky rascal!”
“Here I come!” Jenn called as she approached with a tray of food and a blanket over her shoulder. She quickly spread it on the ground and placed the food in the middle. “Aright, the round bowl is filled with ranch, and the square compartments on the tray hold veggies, crackers, cheese, and ham.”
Maizie crawled onto the blanket and immediately explored the food. Jenn crossed her legs and began to eat as well, letting Maizie choose what she wanted on her own without further guidance. A warm breeze flipped over the corners of the blanket and ruffled their hair.
Maizie continued to clutch the daffodil while eating. “Mommy, what color is my flower?”
“It’s yellow.” Jenn watched her daughter’s reaction.
She tipped her head sideways as she chewed, thinking. “What does yellow look like?”
“Well, yellow is one of the lighter colors. It’s bright and happy. The sun is also yellow. Can you feel it on your face?”
Maizie smiled and tilted her face up to the sun.
“And your lemonade is yellow,” Jenn said, placing a camelback bottle in her hand.
Maizie took a sip. “I really like yellow. What’s your favorite color?”
“My favorite color is blue- like the sky and like your eyes.”
“My eyes look like the sky?”
“Yes, they’re beautiful. Most people have brown eyes which is a dark color, and that’s what I have, but your eyes look like a clear, spring sky. Daddy has blue eyes too.”
“But his blue eyes can see.”
“I was sad this morning, but I got over it.”
“Aw, what made you sad, sweetie?”
“I got my shirt wet when I washed my hands in the bathroom. If my eyes worked, that wouldn’t happen.”
Jenn thought for a moment, then said gently, “It’s okay to feel sad sometimes. There will be things that are harder for you since you’re blind, but you will get better at them with practice. Plus, you’ll learn cool new skills that sighted people don’t have, like reading braille and distinguishing sounds.”
A song bird chose that moment to warble a high pitched tune on a tree branch above them.
Maizie nibbled on a cube of sharp cheddar. “The birds are always happy, even when it’s raining,” she mused.
“Mm-hmm. Why do you think that is?”
“I guess it doesn’t bother them. Or maybe they know it will stop.”
“After the rain, they sit at the edges of the puddles and take baths. They dip their heads in, then shake the water off and fluff their feathers. It’s cute. So how did you cheer up at school?”
“Miss Amy said she gets splashed sometimes, too. That made me feel better. Then we went to music class, which is my favorite,” she said with a smile.
“Did you play an instrument today?”
“Yep! I had a shaker thing.”
“Um, no… it jingled.”
“Yeah, it was so fun. We sounded crazy, like a band of monkeys!”
Jenn threw her head back and laughed. “I hope they’ll let me come to your show one day soon. I’d love to hear the musical monkeys.”
“Maybe I can be in a real band one day.”
“That would be super cool, Maizie. You are going to do so many amazing things.” Jenn leaned over and tickled her tummy, which made her squeal and curl up in a ball on the blanket. “But you know what you do best, right now?”
Maizie sat up curiously. “What?”
“You make people smile, and that makes their lives brighter.”
Maizie crawled into her mom’s lap and placed her little hands on her face. She traced the curves of Jenn’s eyebrows and moved her fingertips down until she felt smiling lips. “What color are you, Mommy?”
“Hmm…” Jenn kissed Maizie’s warm fingers. “I think I’ll let you decide. You can picture me however you want.”
Maizie ran her fingers into Jenn’s soft curls that matched her own. She twisted one around her finger and pursed her lips. “I think you’re a gentle lavender because you’re the sweetest person I know.”
“Aw, I love that. When did you learn about lavender?”
“The other day at school.”
Jenn’s eyes glistened with tears. “You wore a lavender hat in the NICU after you were born.”
“Tell me more,” Maizie whispered.
“Well, the doctors said I would never be able to have kids, but then a miracle happened, and you grew in my tummy. You were so incredibly tiny when you were born, but you were a fighter. I prayed for you all day every day, and after three months, you finally came home in my arms. You brought us out of a long, dark winter. Maizie, you’re our little daffodil.”