My good friends Brianne and Steve recently had their first child: a sweet little girl named Grace. In fact, I had the great honor of witnessing her baptism this morning.
I am always fascinated by young individuals who embrace a mature vision for their lives very early on. While I love where I have been and where I am going, I cannot say that I have planned any of it. Witnessing the clarity of purpose my young friends apply to their own lives is humbling; it also reminds me that there is a lot of good to humanity after all.
I met Brianne when we both worked in the same office, maybe eight years ago. She was fresh out of college and already mature beyond her years. She has since married her college sweetheart, they purchased their first home, and now they have Grace. Incidentally, all of this was accomplished gracefully.
At first, I was not certain how to honor this sweet little girl. After all, she’s got the coolest parents she could possibly have; what more can she possibly need? I wanted to make something for her, but am not equipped to make any child-safe toy. Then, I remembered.
My sister and I shared a room growing up. She was born first. Her godmother made two soft, tall dolls to hang on the wall of her bedroom, watching over her in her crib. I met these later, when we shared that same room, probably when I was old enough to walk and explore. I remember being transfixed at the sight of them. They looked like Comedia Dell Arte characters; one male, one female. They were tall and soft and I frequently asked my mother to take one down for me to hold. They were comforting.
The moment these came to mind, I went to work making a variation of my Messenger Doll, especially for Grace. She cannot play with it yet, but it can watch over. I made it large enough and soft enough to snuggle comfortably in the small arms that will one day be able to hold it.
While I normally add beads or buttons to my dolls, I did not in this case. I wanted Grace’s doll to be safe for a young child to handle. There is a small twine loop in the back, to secure it on the wall, out of reach of small hands, but close enough to be a watchful friend. It stands about 10 inches high and is entirely hand-sewn. In fact, I made it quite spontaneously, adjusting dimensions and fitting clothes right on the spot, without pre-established sketch or measurement.
In a sense, I wanted this doll to take a shape and personality of its own. And I did not name it. Here is the message it is saving for Grace’s little heart:
Dear Lady Grace,
I am not telling you my name. You will pick one for me when you are able to do so.
For now, all you need to know is that I have the honor of being your friend. I will watch over you as you sleep and play and grow. May your life be filled with joy, adventure and beauty.