I saw my daughter’s future today.

I’ve been practicing photography with the camera my sister is loaning me to take to India, and I decided to take a few pictures of Ruthie sitting on the bed watching YouTube videos of Caillou. (Caillou is not a favorite in our house, so we told her that they took it off Netflix. Now we can limit it to 8-minute segments found on YouTube.)

I played with the aperture, adjusted the ISO, did all the things Karen told me in our tutoring session. I tried to remember back to my days in Mrs. Moehring’s photography class at my high school. I took a picture.

It’s not the best picture ever taken. Could be focused better. Could be a bit brighter. It’s not even the best picture I’ve ever taken. There is something special about it anyway.

Her face. She is three years old in this photo, and she is eighteen. And she is thirty. And she is seven. And she is fifty. And she is ten.

It’s not just that she looks grown up in the photo, although that’s part of it. It’s that in the moment, I can see a calm happiness in her that I don’t usually associate with her three-year-old self. She usually wavers dramatically between ecstasy and devastation—the way three-year-olds feel the world must be overwhelming. There is stillness in this picture that is not the stillness of a sleeping baby, which is what she still looks like at night in her twin bed.  It is not the sweetness of a snuggle or the joy of a perfectly-executed joke.

The stillness of this photo is beautiful.

I hope she is as happy at all of the ages I see her in that photo as she was in the moment I took it.


Note: This content is being published while I am out of the country, so my involvement in the comments may be limited until I return.