it happened so quickly

Years ago, on our way back from the shore,
we stopped to eat, taking time to explore
the lovely town square of old Easton.

Our older daughter, so much younger then—
so small then—
but bigly bursting with excitement—
with bright-eyed laughter—
excitedly running ahead of us—
ducking into the recesses of store fronts
to jump out to surprise us—
shrieking in anticipation of our reaction before we ever reacted,
then immediately turning to toddler-run on ahead of us
and do it all over again.

At a street crossing
she fell
(was it the curb?),
and scraped her knee rather badly—
painfully shocked into breathless sobs and tears.

We carried her to the car, buckled her in her seat—
consoling her as we could
with words, hugs, kisses, and caresses ….

We stopped at a drug store on the main road out of town,
purchased antiseptic cream and band-aids.

What remains with me to this day,
is how her joy ended so abruptly—
so completely.

That utter inversion still makes me sad
and leaves me scared.

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