I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting in a lawn chair as the evening turned to dark. She came and sat in my lap.
“What’s one of your favorite things, Daddy?”
I was distracted by the cute way her nose wrinkled when she asked a question. I touched her nose and was about to reply.
“I like lightning bugs!” She stated in a matter-of-fact tone, emphasizing the word ‘lightning’. “Let’s go catch some.” She hopped from my lap and began running toward the trees.
“Hurry, Daddy! They’re fast and gone before you know it.”
“I know.” I muttered, struggling to keep up with her. Even the twirls she added to the chase did not provide enough time for me to close the gap.
“It’s like they’re only there for a flash and then they are gone.”
By this time I had stopped and was watching from a short distance. I could see her silhouette jump as she clasped her hands together. “I know exactly what you mean, dear.”
Her joy turned to a pout as she slumped her shoulders forward. “How are you supposed to keep ‘em?”
“Well, you can’t keep them. You can only play with them while they’re here.” I watched her push her hair back behind her ears and narrow her eyes as she watched one fluttering by.
“But I want to hold one. How do you catch them?”
“Well, what I do is wait for them to get tired and then put my hand out gently.”
She followed a bug for a ways, letting it flash a few times as it went. “This one has to be tired. You think he’s ready?”
“Give it a try.”
She held her hand out slowly and waited. I watched her eyes widen as she watched the creature land on her hand.
“Hee hee! It tickles!”
“Try to keep still. See if it will flash.”
The bug flashed as if on cue. “Did you see that, Daddy? He flashed!”
I’ll never forget the glow illuminating her face in the dark. At that very moment she had a lightning bug and she was enjoying it fully.
“He flew away,” she said after a few minutes. “Let’s see if we can get another one.”
The next hour flew by as she held her hand out and waited for them to alight. She giggled and talked and twirled as one lightning bug after another stopped by for a visit. After a while she began to yawn.
“I think it’s about time to get you to bed.” I held out my hand as I spoke.
She took my hand and pulled close to me. I scooped her up and held her on my hip, her head resting on my shoulder. The walk back was short and I found myself wishing we had ventured further. She was sound asleep before we even reached the kitchen door.
I saw her just a few moments ago. She looks absolutely stunning today. Her dress is gorgeous and she’s wearing flowers in her hair. I just hope I can hold back any tears that may threaten to appear. No, I’m not going to cry. I only have one small task. I’m going to hold out my hand, wait for her to take it and enjoy her while she’s still here.