Daisy and I crossed the paddock toward Kes, who had just finished a riding lesson. Kes had her arms around Hershey, a 6-year-old chestnut gelding thoroughbred.
"Oh, Hershey, I love you! You're just the best horse ever!"
Kes grabbed the bridle and walked back to the barn, talking a mile a minute to Hershey, whom she handed off to her instructor. "Mom! Mom, did you see me trot? Hershey's got a monster trot, doesn't he?" She continued to chatter away, skipping, and turning pirouettes in the tack room as she put Hershey's equipment away.
Daisy rolled her eyes. "Oh my god, does she ever shut up?"
"Daisy", I said, "give her a break. She's eight years old. It wasn't that long ago that you were eight years old."
Daisy stopped and regarded me with a mixture of sadness and disbelief, then turned her head out toward the paddock. Her eyes fixed on a point in the distance.
"I was never eight years old. At least, not like that." She turned back toward me. "When I was eight years old, my older sister and I were trying to figure out where to get food, and taking turns going to school, so someone would be home to watch my baby sister, Gina. There are days when I would give anything -- I mean it, anything -- to actually be eight years old. Just for a little while."
There are days when I am so involved in the activity of loving this child -- of giving her the life I think she wants and needs -- that I forget that she went through enough hell before she arrived here that she was removed from her home for her own safety. And at those times, I want to wrap her in my arms and protect her from all that is bad in this world. I want to find her birth mother and make her look me in the eye and tell me what on Earth she could have chosen over loving this child.
But I can't do that. All I can do is love her, and maybe...finally...give her a chance to be a child.