Stepping out

1st stepsTwenty-one years ago, days shy of her first birthday, I let go of her chubby little hand and away she went.

Then she kept on going. In preschool, she was queen of the monkey bars. In junior kindergarten, the most popular girl in the class. In fourth grade she had a reputation on the soccer field as being the player who made the most spectacular tumbles but popped right back up and raced down the field to get the ball back.

With a sense of her own gifts as a leader, she seemed to relish being in the middle of the action, wherever that was. And whether it was orating in the Damon Speech contest, or portraying Viola in Twelfth Night, or the many times she stood, bedecked in paʻu, lei poʻo and kupeʻe on various kahua hula — to be on stage was like being home to her.

When she was four, she was in her first performance on an elevated stage at the Waikiki Hoʻolauleʻa. After their final number, the little dancers left the stage to great applause. Eager to praise and congratulate her, I raced backstage to find her dissolved into tears. “I want to go back up there!” she wailed. “Why can’t I do it again?”

When it comes to stepping out on her own, my girl is just getting warmed up. At 22, having long since let go of my hand, she has all the confidence she needs to make her own way in the life that lies before her.

So today I blow her a virtual kiss, and with a heart full of pride, watch her step out into the adventure of adulthood.

Happy Birthday, my angel. E kūlia i ka nuʻu: strive for the highest.

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