Shortly after I moved back to Michigan from California in 1988, my best friend announced that she was going to have a baby. Over the following months I received photos of Kimmy getting bigger and bigger, grinning the whole time.
There were so many special things about this child, right from the beginning. She had been conceived while I was living with her parents and I first met her when she was barely two years old. “We think she looks like you,” her Dad said.
I knew this was his way of making me part of the experience. He was eternally generous that way. Indeed, they had deemed me godmother. They named her Makayla, and she did have long, lush, curly hair, much like mine had been. Hers was tinged with copper, sprinkled with the torch her mother carried.
Another gift from Kimmy was a love for animals. She passed along this intimacy, so that her daughter would understand the brotherhood, the sharing of the planet. As Makayla grew, I would see her periodically, but our distance prevented the kind of bond I would have liked. I was entranced by her obsession with reptiles. She would cuddle snakes and other creepy crawlies that would have sent other little girls screaming from the room.
Kimmy is gone now, and Makayla has grown into a stunning woman. She breeds and raises bearded dragons. She posts pictures of them climbing all over her. They are her babies.
Makayla has been through some rough patches. Just like the reptiles she so adores, she has developed a hard shell. She likes to pass herself off as tough. But I know inside, she is soft, like the underbelly of the dragon. She has a kind and sweet nature, a swift sense of humor, an understated perception of truth. She is stronger than she realizes. She has only begun to shed the old, and the new version is stepping forth; even stronger, wiser, more formidable, more beautiful.
She will wonder how I know these things.
I know, because I know from whence she comes.
I have a goddaughter.