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  • Writer's pictureDiana Scalia

In Neverland, with Renata

Neverland, noun. The experience of timelessness, pure joy, heaven brought down to earth; typically attributed to being with a precious loved one.

This expression is the best way I can describe what it’s like when I’m with my little goddaughter, Renata. She is just about 4 ½ years old.

She grew up with me, for the first nearly 4 years of her life. With her parents, she moved from LA to France a year ago, and I say that she took my heart with her. So – as you can imagine – I have had no choice but to visit her as often as I possibly can, to claim back pieces of my tender heart.

This summer in France, we first got reacquainted (after missing each other since Christmastime), when her parents brought her to my pretty home in La Rochelle. They enjoyed date time while my little love and I explored my new neighbourhood together, hand in hand.

We did Nutella crepes, rode upstairs horsies (of course) on the carousel, shopped, said bonjour at Le Marche’, shared beignets chocolat, and played with new sticker books at home. We dolled up and joined her parents later for an amazing seafood dinner at Andre’s Bar. She rode a smooth, stone slide (such fun!) outside a pretty home at the end of the evening.

The following weekend was a family overnight stay at my home, so our fun was multiplied. We went to the Aquarium, took boat rides, had a kebabs picnic in the park, and she rode the such-fun slide again. The next morning was breakfast out with her parents, for Father’s Day.

Our next visits were in Les Sables d’Olonne, and this included lots of time together, including one weekend and one whole week spent by just the two of us. Those days found us riding the ferry, shopping, dancing at the street faire, baking cookies, reading storybooks, hair salon-ing, strolling to SuperU and boulangeries, eating gummy bears, and playing lots of silly games together.

There was also a big, super-fun, Saturday family party and overnight stay hosted by her parents in La Tranche sur Mer. Next, a special dinner night out with her parents and Auntie Elise, turned out to be a surprise celebration of my Bump Clause book, released that day! We toasted to my future as a best-selling author, and Renata had a yummy plate prepared specially by the Chef.

On my last day in town, I was invited for another surprise-bonus visit with Renata, when her grandparents brought her to Les Sables. More family hosted a glorious, super-delicious, at-home lunch and afternoon together.

Each time that we’re together feels like a divine appointment where time stands still, and she reminds me of who I really am. She is incredibly imaginative and creative; she brings that out in me. She is expert-beyond-measure at staying in the present moment; she shows me how to do that. She is filled with overflowing joy – almost all of the time – so she just takes me there with her, in only the way that she can.

Since she was very tiny, I’ve sung her lullabies at bedtime. We love the song Never Land, part of a medley by Kenny Loggins. The lyrics are so touching that I try to sing without crying. They represent the song in my heart that tells what Life feels like, when I’m with my precious little love ... and even when I merely think of her.

I know a place where dreams are born and time is never planned

It’s not on any chart, you must find it with your heart

To come home, to Neverland

It might be miles beyond the moon, or right here where you stand

Just think of lovely things, and your heart will fly on wings to

Never Never Land

The treasure when you stay there, is precious more than gold

Once you’ve found your way there

You can never, never grow old ...

Ah oui. It’s pretty much ... Just. Like. That.

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