One thousand and ninety five days later, she finally discovered them.
After 3 long years, Babisodes’ interest in toy vending machines has finally piqued. Inside of an Asian market cafeteria, unexpected vending machines fell perfectly into her line of sight while standing at a food counter. The loud bustling lunch crowd grew silent as the colorful, encapsulated treasures within each machine begged for releasing from inside.
Pictorial diagrams out front displayed the bounty that lied behind each glass case, each one offering an array of exciting opportunities. Half moon coin slots peered open loose change. Her index finger felt alongside its happy faced edge. She stared intently at its size. A long pause passed, and finally, she looked up at me and smiled.
“Mommy, may I haf a quarter, please? I want a Hello Kitty. *points* Dat one.”
Looking down at her, I delay a bittersweet smile. A film reel of the past 3 years, flicker in fast-forward through my mind- A top view of my growing belly. A fetus turning on an ultrasound screen. Tiny fingers. Fine, baby black hair. Rolling over. Stepping forward. Asleep on my chest. Running with arms wide open, eyes closed, clear into my arms. – I blink quickly in effort to break up tears blurring images reflecting in her big, brown eyes.
With only one corner of my mouth raised, the other finally joins. She arms fling open and wrap tightly around my knees as if she already knows my reply.
“Sure honey. You’ve been so good. Why don’t we use one of the quarters you saved inside of your backpack.”
Together our fingers guided the coin into a slot. My hand over hers, I offer some added force while turning the dial.
*Click. Click. Click.*
Her eyes widened in suspense.
The plastic prize dropped behind the metal door, and a reality pierced through the white noise of Chinese dialects.
No matter what lies behind the door for us each day, we will be fine. With this 3rd anniversary of her life, my hands struggle to piece together something tangible in order for her to understand how much she has changed my world, my life, and my heart.
But rather, I lead her tiny hand to the metal door and allow her to open it, explore, and discover a new fleeting moment on her own. And as she stares in wonderment through the clear, plastic dome, I sit beside her hoping that she will always know that she is my greatest prize.