Friday, July 12, 2013


The other day, I read a blog post about a woman who was cleaning out her daughter's closet.  She was clearing out coats and boots and tutus and dresses and deciding what to donate and what to pack up and keep.  She wrote about the hand knit blanket she brought her daughter home from the hospital wrapped in.  The kimono sent from a friend in Japan.  A green fairy costume.

I have been there myself..pouring over my kid's belongings trying to decide what to part with and what to store in the attic in plastic Rubbermaid containers.  I have sat on the floor, undecided, about the fate of certain items and stuck on a memory of where and when my child wore the particular garment.  I've held tiny dresses and socks in my hands, trying hard to remember my children ever being so small.

I have cleaned out closets too...except there is a big difference between this mother and myself.

Her daughter is dead.  

She was four and it was a brain tumor. This mother has only the physical items to fit within the space of her hands where her child no longer is.

I read the post in my living room, coffee in one hand and a pile of laundry I had been trying to delay folding piled way too high on the couch beside me.  It was about noon and my own girl lay sleeping in her bed, knocked down with a fever and sore throat; the latest virus that happened to be making rounds in our neighborhood.  It was day four into  Miss J being sick and clingy and whiney.  It was day four of me growing restless and feeling cooped up and stuck in the house during a beautiful stretch of July weather after seemingly endless days of rain.

Four days and I was climbing walls.  This mother fought cancer with her daughter for two years.  

This morning Miss J awoke, fever free and able to talk without pain for the first time in days. M would be at summer school for the better part of the day and it would be just Miss J and I.  I wanted it to count and I wanted to imprint her beautiful, healthy brain with a memory of a day spent, present, together.

"Let's go" I told her.
"Where?"  she asked.
"Anywhere.  Where would you like to go?"
She thought for a moment.  And shyly asked, 
"Do you think we can go to the beach?"
I didn't hesitate.  Didn't think about laundry or dishes piled in the sink or errands that needed to be run after four days of being hunkered down in the house.
"Yes.  Go get ready.  After the beach, what would you like to do?  Anything."
"Really? Lunch?  Maybe sushi?"

We went to the beach and walked the shore.  We collected shells and driftwood and seaglass. We dug holes in the sand and chased seagulls and sat on the blanket, and for a time, said nothing at all.  I couldn't have wished for a more perfect moment.

We finally made it to our favorite restaurant, still sandy from the beach and our shoulders and cheeks pink from the sun.  We filled up on miso soup and salad with ginger dressing and ordered more sushi than we could finish.  

Miss J thanked me later.
"That was fun, mom.  But...I thought you had stuff to do?"
I kissed her head.
"I did have stuff to do.  Very important stuff.  I needed to be with you."

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