We measured Lily the day before we left Nashville for Bangalore.
We measured her against the living room wall at my former in-laws’ house, where we gathered for Fathers Day with my parents, my ex-husband and his parents, his brother and brother’s wife, and her father.
Our family is complicated, and our Lily is five feet tall.
During our trip to India, she bloomed.
Our lovely nine-year-old was fitted for handmade Salwar Kameez, which she wore gracefully and respectfully.
She was blessed in a Delhi temple by Ganesha – the elephant god revered as the remover of obstacles.
She ate lunch on the floor with Hare Krishnas.
And she discovered puppies sleeping in a stone passageway at a 14th century mosque.
During our time in India, our Pie / Love Bug / Biscuit / Pea navigated five different airports, two train stations and four cities.
She braved Bangalore traffic full of cars, motorcycles, rickshaws, buses, cattle, dogs, and street vendors.
She survived a hustle in Delhi and learned quickly how to deal confidentally with hawkers in touristy places like Agra.
She suffered oppressive heat and travelers stomach, and countless strange journeys with her carsick, sleepy head on my lap. She complained less than her mother complained about her complaints.
In New Delhi, she taught me how to swim. We were the only people in a beautiful tiled pool with a chained monkey in the pool house.
On the road from Agra, we discussed world religions from the hatchback of a car whose driver stopped frequently so we could snap photos of towering Hindu gods.
In Old Delhi, we toured the government buildings. India needs some new laws, she said. Laws about litter, the environment, hawkers, helping poor people, the traffic and the water.
On the road to Mysore, the driver asked if we wanted McDonalds. She chose the Indian restaurant beside it. Days later, when we both craved red meat, we made a list of the things we’d cook when we returned home.
She stayed up late to talk to her father a half a world away. She rose early to catch red eye flights.
She bonded with the 15-year-old son of our traveling companions, as well as the stylish, 30-year-old administrative assistant at my father’s office.
She reassured me in moments I found India to be too difficult. “It’s going to work out,” she said to me, more often than I said it to her.
She is five feet tall, and my love for her is immeasurable.