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I don’t know what my sister was thinking when she left instructions that, if anything should happen to the two of them, I should be the one to raise Spring. I never had children of my own. Not that I purposely didn’t want any, but, it’s just the way my life had played out. I remember going into a total state of panic only once, for about twenty minutes or so, when I realized my biological clock was tick, tick, ticking away. And, after those twenty minutes were over I was fine, and it never happened again -- until now. The faraway sound of some other clock was tick, tick, ticking in the back of my mind, counting down the minutes until this little girl would become a permanent part of my remaining existence. And, the panic was rising, again…

Up to this point, I’d managed to remain on the fringe of my family unit. Just far away to not be intimately involved, and just close enough to be regarded as part of it. But, I never truly “fit in”. My ways were so totally different; my thinking too Bohemian, my tastes totally foreign to their mundane norm. So, mostly to protect myself from so many hurt feelings, I had resolved to like myself as I was. I also resigned from being at odds with the family, and made peace – by remaining a protective distance away… And here I was being called upon to re-enter the fray of opinions and judgments, criticisms and comments, regarding the raising of one tiny little girl…that clock was getting louder by the minute!

Spring arrived on a wet and cloudy day, and I prayed the weather wasn’t a foreshadowing of the rest of our lives together. I’d made her room as tidy as I could, being a total outdoorsy kind of woman, not at all skilled with the finer points of home interior decorating. I’d bought a pale green candy-striped comforter and sheet set with matching curtains, a tiny white rug, and those cutesy, pillow thingies. I had included a little nightstand with a small drawstring lamp on it that she could easily reach from her bed. I’d also bought a tiny stepstool for her to climb into the ‘too-tall-for-her” bed. I silently prayed she would like her room, which was on the complete opposite end of my compact little 3-bedroom house.

She didn’t say anything, just looked around in quiet acceptance of what was before her. She’d brought her favorite stuffed animal, and clung to it tightly under her arm. I guessed it would eventually find a permanent place amongst the pillow thingies. We unpacked her suitcase and put away the clothes and books and toys she’d brought with her. Familiar things, to bridge some awful chasm between where she was, and where she’d come from. It had been a long trip, and I could see she was so tired. So, after a nice hot bath and some fresh bedclothes, I helped her into the “too-tall-for-her” bed where she quietly cried herself to sleep.

I was at a total loss as to what to do with this new presence in my home. So, as usual, I retreated to the one place that had always brought me the most peace and comfort – my garden. The rain had stopped, and the clouds had rolled back. Everything was so clean and fresh looking, and the smell was amazing! I stood looking out at all the newly budding flowers, and the butterflies and bees that swooped down on the fresh water droplets. Then, I closed my eyes and prayed for some sign that she and I would be ok. I didn’t have a clue about this next part of my life…

But, just before I became lost in my own sea of bewilderment, I felt a tiny hand slip into mine. Spring had climbed out of her bed and was standing next to me. “We had a garden, too, but yours is much nicer.” “Mommy would get so mad because I’d get dirt all over me from digging in the flowers, but I love the way the dirt feels, and it just smells so good, especially after the rain…”

“Well, I can promise you that I won’t ever get mad if you get dirt all over you, sweetie.” “And, yes, everything does smell so good, especially after the rain…”