Friday, July 31, 2015

Another set of wings

We always want to remember them as this fresh, this full of wonder, this unburdened by the world.

I didn't have the luxury of parents who lovingly helped me toward the edge of the nest, and so I wasn't prepared for how much it feels like exploitation, how they glean every bit of information and your final bits of world savvy in one last mad rush, whether that mode of handling is necessary for their survival or not. I'm still not certain what to do with the belongings she left behind and what they mean. I'm not ready for the moment I know is coming, when it all hits, that the vacancy is for real. She's finally grown and gone. Even if I had known how other parents approach the end of their firstborn's childhood, I don't think I'd be prepared for how abruptly hers ended, for how unrehearsed I was once it arrived. 

She was distant on the phone tonight, farther away than I'd ever planned, inhabiting a space entirely separate and independent from mine. Maybe I was a little too matter-of-fact in my tone, but something in me didn't want to appear vulnerable to the emptiness that now exists in the room next door. So I asked her what she was planning to do with the things left behind, since moving out means taking it all with you. Because that's what my mother had expected; that I take all trace of ever having been there in the first place.

Among photographs I went through this morning I found one I'd thought to take when she was about two or three. It's an odd image—small handprints in the condensation on an early morning kitchen window. She'd have had to climb onto a chair to peer outside. I must have cleaned the windows after I took the shot; I was fastidious then. But I'm thanking myself now for having the presence of mind to capture the handprints left in a moment she stood at the pane, staring in safety beyond the boundaries of her home.

I wish somehow it were the case that I'd never stopped filming, that I had image after image of her. I wish that I could step into the frame again, just for an instant, take her in my arms and twirl her endlessly in the light of early morning, safely through the afternoon bumps of the world, until I tuck her into bed at night. Or at least, I long for these wishes to fasten themselves securely to her back like wings that know the way through all her future storms.

I will lay awake here for hours tonight hoping her dreams are sweet and deep. I will remember holding her until dawn.

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