Monday, October 24, 2016

forgive me

I'm not sure why I suddenly have the need to write about six year-old me.

Maybe it's because six year-old Tiny is standing where I stood. (Though her vantage point seems to be much better than mine was). I see her through two lenses. In one, she is just a baby  - small, vulnerable, trying to figure out the world. Yet in the other, I realize how much she knows, how much she'd take with her, how much the world underestimates the power of her understanding.

In some ways she is like me - her memory is exquisite. I was almost three when my brother was born. But I can remember things even before that - things even my dad forgot until I reminded him - and he confirmed - like the condo we lived in for a few months, and how the playground was behind our house, and that we had barstools and two porch steps before the door. I even remember the day we moved, and that we ordered pizza from Shakey's.

All of this happened when I was two - and even now it is completely clear. I could draw floor plans of that house - I have.

So when people doubt - when they say I cannot possibly remember, that there is simply no way for all of those details to be stuck in my head - they are wrong. When people say this will all be a blip on the radar for Tiny - for any of our kids - they are wrong. They are well-meaning, but they are wrong.

I think that sometimes forgetting is just easier than remembering. Some people would rather forget than face the truth. Some people will say, "It wasn't that bad."

Even if it was.

So, yes, I am slightly obsessed with six - with what she will remember, what will stick in her heart.

I've felt this way twice before - once with Punk and once with Kooka. But this time is different - for obvious de'ja'vu reasons.

So please forgive me if I occasionally indulge in the past. Please forgive my six-year-old voice - but I think that the only way for me to be honest is be in that moment - in that space, and see the world through the eyes of that kid.

The voice of that kid hits me hardest when I go through my old toybox. The kids like to see my "treasures", and there are plenty: my teddy bear Harvey Mudd; the Mrs. Ticklefeather book Grandma June used to read to me; the little green safe that holds pennies I squished in the railroad track and my mom's favorite crystal; the Chinese Coke bottle my dad brought back from Asia - there's a lot of good stuff in there.

But then I get to the drawings - stacks of paper covered in Crayola. I am looking for something good to show to Tiny - to show her what I drew when I was six - but there is nothing here. All of my recognizable drawings are of Mommy with wings or me with tears. My writing is very legible for a six year-old, so why is it still so hard to read? Everything in this stack says, "get well soon" or "please come home" or "I miss you."

They are not all for my mama - some are for Grandma June, or Grandpa, or Granddad too - all of them dying. Me trying to save them with markers and paper and praying.

None of it worked

It's not often that I've felt sorry for myself. Especially about my mom - it's just how life is. But I look at Tiny, and I read those letters - and I remember the little girl who wrote them the night her mama died - and I do feel sorry for her.





3 comments:

Lisa McDermott said...

One of the difficulties of life and death times in our lives is that we revisit the OTHER life and death times in our lives. I think it may be one of the gifts, too, as we can learn to give ourselves compassion for all those other losses while we deal with the current losses, too. I was worried that the girls were going to be scarred for life after watching Tim cartwheel down the mountain in 2009; one reassuring thing that someone told me was that the tough times can give kids the opportunity to grow in compassion and gentleness, especially when there feelings are handled with compassion. I'm pretty sure that's been true for us, even if there's some scarring, too.

Sharing these times together is one of the best parts of being human, if it totally sucks to have these times. Thanks for sharing with us.

j said...

I remember thinking about you all during that period too. I do think giving kids a chance to look outside of themselves is a good thing, I think it will definitely make my kids more thoughtful in that regard.

Treats said...

There is never a day in anyone's life that they don't need their mama. Your kids need to know your story - it has made you who you are. I still think you need to write a memoir and I'll go with you on tour as your personal assistant.