She is my beach girl.
Toes in the sand, cartwheels on the shoreline, kissed-by-the-sun beach girl.
When she was a toddler, I couldn't get her out of our cheap plastic pool. She would loudly screech if she saw a bug floating near her, but it wasn't enough to send her running.
When she was little, we took family vacations to Wisconsin Dells. No ride was too scary for her. No roller coaster too breathtaking. No wave pool too intense.
She has always been fearless: riding 4-wheeler and golf cart around the yard with her older brother and boy cousins, capturing worms, toads, turtles, and snakes in her slender hands. She scaled trees in July and careened down ice-covered snow mounds in January.
Forget baby dolls and dress up. She preferred making mud pies and doing flips on the trampoline.
In the summers, she lived in the water. Pools, sprinklers, lakes, and creeks; it didn't matter. She chased her brother with squirt guns and water balloons. She flung herself off the pool stairs, not paying attention to whether there was anyone there ready to catch her. It was my job to be ready.
Her favorite was doing cannonballs near her dad to surprise soak him and doing somersaults off the diving board.
She is 15 and she still loves the water. She loves gathering up the floaties and heading to the lake to float the afternoon away; the sunlight bursting behind closed eyelids and the murky lake water lulling her to sleep.
The last time her and her best friend were going to go, she insisted I come too. She has not outgrown me yet, to my eternal delight. I am there for all it. I wouldn't have it any other way.
She is my beach girl. Reddened cheeks, Crocs covered in sand, and skin fragranced with the pungent smell of lake water.
I love the sun, but I don't need it.
I have her.
She is brighter than a thousand splendid suns.
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