I caught a glimpse of my daughter the other day while I was walking down a narrow cobblestone street. It is one of those special passages, hundreds of years old, that seem to whisper: I have always been here and will always be here. My daughter was inside an elegantly restored building, by a window, glancing down at the street below when I passed by. She was standing in a room of dark green tones and polished mahogany, there were etched crystals behind her giving off faceted prisms—maybe a chandelier or antique wine glasses in a vitrine. We locked eyes for a moment. I nearly sobbed.

What was this? When was this? I don’t know.

Was I dead? Possibly a ghost who could only observe from a distance the life of a precious loved one. Looking on, full of love, hoping one day to hold her once again.

Whatever the case, I was only allowed a moment.

What other details of her life could I fill in with that glimpse? Was she happy? Did she feel at home where she was? Did she have the luxury to dream and enjoy the finer things in life? Maybe the things I never had? Perhaps she really was living a future that I wished for her. She seemed content.

What I know for sure: Her life will always be beyond my grasp. Just as my mother, by her own admittance, could never comprehend mine. We would always stand at a border somewhere, observing, wondering, speculating about a life beyond us.

Perhaps she had been sitting at a desk, talking to a hologram about the intricacies of her feelings while drinking pink-tinged vitamin water from a crystal goblet. Perhaps, she wore clothing that no longer had a label, it just existed to reflect her mood. Today it was “cloud”, an ethereal, wrinkle-free hybrid of tulle and raw silk that glimmered from crisp white at the shoulder to an orange sunset at the waist. After her hologram-call ends, she gets up to rinse her goblet on the HE, the high-efficiency-ultra-sonic cleaner that pops out of the top of her sink like a vertical drawer. Ten seconds to clean and back on the shelf it goes. She goes back to the desk to write on an invisible tablet with a huge white feather pen, some quirk of the time that’s the chicest new trend.

She’ll have a life where her biggest problem will be mild neurosis. Not sexism, not classism, not racism, not lack of money or jobs, not self-worth issues, not bigotry, not xenophobia or any of the phobias, not lack of access or education—but a neurosis of her own making. She’ll be free to have the depth of feeling and attention thoughtlessly given to any major romantic heroine. To be so deserving that you hardly question it—I can’t even imagine what that’s like. And she’ll be free to take it all for granted. Though I hope she does not.

For this kind of future for my daughter, I would give up my life. I would readily exist as a ghost looking up at her from afar—to see her problems as trivial compared to my own. If I could only have the satisfaction that my mother, an abuse-survivor, has now.

My daughter is a smart, thoughtful girl with a quick smile. She is a lot cooler and prettier than I am, though everyone says we look alike. They can’t see what I can see. She is her own person. A radiant jewel that no one can ever claim.

Her name is a still forest lake reflecting the sky.

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