"Sometimes the clouds don't even look real."
She said it with a mix of wonder and disbelief, one that seems peculiar to children. The statement hung in the air while I considered my answer. The remark had come out of nowhere. I looked up from the road, through the windshield, peering up at the luminous billows perched seemingly overhead. The cloud-mountains marched off in all directions in a radiant matrix. The sky expanded before my eyes.
She was right, I knew.The proof was there, in all its divinely white glory limned out against a blue so beautiful it was to make one weep. Even with the near horizon of trees and man-made distractions the sky seemed like it was about to overwhelm our immediate surroundings. The edges of the clouds were so white, so sharp in places one could not shake the impression they had been painted on.The light in those edges could make one lose ones' bearings.
"They look like paint!" Another declaration from the back seat.
I felt weightless. The car could have been floating, hovering, swirling up and into those unreal clouds. I felt dizzy at her words. Everything seemed unreal, lost on the contemplation of those clouds. My heart contracted around the realization that we, my daughter and I, were gifted only so many moments together. Moments that are precious even when they seem contrived or unlikely. They were hard to comprehend, sometimes, in the mad chatter and hum of life. But occasionally the moments spring forth, luminous and true, like cloud-mountains in an impossible sky. I swallowed my adult doubts so I could answer.
"You're right, sweet pea. They do look like paint." In the rear view mirror, I could see her watching me. I smiled. "They may not look real, but they are. And they are beautiful."
She smiled, and looked out the window. I heard her singing a few bars of a kid's song I did not recognize. I smiled, too, and felt the gentle bump as the car came back down to earth. The sun dappled the ground as it shone between the clouds, lighting up our real life.