A few weeks ago, my friend Peter Pollock hosted a blog carnival on Grief. My friend Annie had sent me a guest post entitled The Winter Trail which I thought was perfect for the topic. This week’s carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley on the topic is Love, and Annie’s follow up to that post is fitting as well. Here’s Annie:
For over five weeks I had avoided going into her room but I knew sooner or later I was going to have to face the daunting task of packing up the things she left behind.
I looked around the room and took in the few items left hanging in the closet, mainly the old clothes she didn’t wear anymore. The desk held a few nick knacks, school supplies and stuffed animals. The walls had been left mostly bare except for the remnants of her high school volleyball days and a random tack here and there.
I climbed up on the bunk bed and began taking down the volleyball shirts one-by-one. Player number on the front, name across the back. One shirt had the words ‘Team Captain’ boldly printed across the chest, and I had a flashback to the moment she told me she’d made captain. There were bags she had hung that had been decorated by her ‘secret bear pal’ and given to her on the days we played our cross town rival. Pictures of her with the team, the saying, ‘you wish you could hit like a girl’ and the ’10 Reasons I Play Volleyball’, all came down one at a time along with the memories I had of her volleyball days.
I climbed down from the bunk bed and began going through the items on her desk. There was an Angel jewelry holder that she had painted at a little pottery studio we had visited and I carefully wrapped it up and put it into a box. I gently tucked the stuffed animals into the box along with jewelry, pictures, old cell phone chargers, books, and school projects that she had worked so diligently on.
As I cleaned off her desk, I noticed the tiny white Christmas lights that she had strung around her desk and up the bunk bed. I plugged them in and continued working.
I went to the closet and began opening the drawers of her dresser, a hand-me-down from when I was a little girl. As I opened the top drawer I smiled at the mismatched socks in it. We had always laughed about the fact that she never wore matching socks. And there was not a match in the drawer. I closed the drawer and left the socks as they were.
Other drawers held old high school sweatshirts that I packed along with the volleyball shirts into a box. The jewelry box she’d had as a girl that was tucked safely away in the third drawer down was just going to stay put. For now.
As I surveyed the room, I hadn’t realized how late it had gotten and the room was becoming dark except for the white Christmas lights. I glanced over at her desk and my eyes landed on the blue dolphin lamp sitting there. Blue was her favorite color and she’d always loved dolphins. I reached over to turn the lamp on and it lit up as mini lightning bolts raced through the dolphin. I stood there for a moment watching the lightning show…and then the tear fell.
And it fell for the emptiness of the room.
And then another fell for the hurt and sadness of my daughter walking out the door and not looking back.
And another fell, for not seeing her in those mismatched socks.
And then the tears came.
For wondering how the dreams for ones child could go so wrong somewhere along the way and for feeling like I was packing up all the memories I had of her 17 years into a few boxes.
And for missing the hugs, the kisses and the ‘I love yous’, the laughter, the quiet moments, singing Lady Gaga in the car, being goofy, baking cookies and watching movies.
And they fell because I won’t watch her graduate from my old alma mater, and because don’t want to miss out on her future.
And they fell because I’m afraid she doesn’t know how much I miss her.
As I sat there letting the tears fall I knew it was only the beginning. There will be many more tears in the coming weeks, and who knows, maybe months because there is a lot of healing in our relationship that needs to happen, for both of us. But, there is one thing that I am certain of where my daughter and I are concerned. And that is no matter what the differences are, or what trials we face, or how mad and disappointed we are with each other, she knows I love her and I know she loves me.
Be sure to check out the rest of the entries in the blog carnival over at my friend Bridget’s blog, One Word at a Time.