Mar 4, 2011

After she's gone

The other day I was catching up with my cyber friend Katie, at Marriage Confessions, who is a redhead, who is expecting her daughter, Gracie, to be born soon, and they were showing the baby's room. Here is a link to the blog, I highly recommend it.
This little girl has a beautiful room, freshly done and waiting for her, featuring one of the MOST gorgeous mobiles I have ever seen.  It's made of butterflies. 
I have followed this couple for a couple of years.  They got me with the first baby, "Bean", but I stayed for her honesty.  They are very brave, this couple, and very grounded.  She is clearly big and pregnant in the video, worn out, tired of even talking, and he is steadfastly videoing little details that he knows she wants you to see.  This is a good picture of them as a couple.  She does most of the talking on the blog, he takes care of the details, steadfastly and faithfully.  So sweet, and then, it happened.
She pointed to a shelf full of dolls in Gracie's nursery.  My heart stopped and I got tears in my eyes.  Her sweet young voice explained how these were dolls that had been hers growing up, and sat on a shelf in her room when she was a little girl.  I was bawling out loud by then.

You see, I have a redheaded daughter.  Having a red headed child gives you a bond with anyone who has ever had red hair in their family.  It is always the first thing remarked upon.  By the time my daughter was 3 she would lean away from hands raised to touch her hair because everyone always did, first thing.  "Don't let them touch my hair", she would discreetly request as they headed toward us, hands already outstretched.  Not only do I have a red headed daughter, but Grace is her middle name.  Is the bawling starting to make sense?  Well, in her room, since before she was born, there has been a shelf.  My mother started buying dolls for my daughter when she was born.  Only redheaded dolls.  Not expensive ones, not collector's items, just redheaded dolls, many of which have been displayed since her birth on that same shelf, where they are still sitting in her now basically abandoned room.

More than one shelf.  Note to Katie, bookshelves lining the top of her room are really handy.

I went to her room.  The dolls sit silently collecting dust and perhaps dreaming of days past us all now, like me.  Do they look forward to another little girl, like me?

I laid down on my daughter's bed, on top of the quilt my mother made, feeling my connection to the two women who are closest to me in this life.  Who always will be closest to me, in life or beyond.  Life flows through us, as women and all we are is the conduit, the vessel, the link between.  At times I find this a relief, other times it feels like the weight of the world.  Always, it is a fact.  Known.  Unquestioned.
I looked at the Sunflower Sue quilt made by my grandmother, lovingly and prominently displayed on the wall.  My Nana, mother to 2 boys and expecting her third to be her girl, made this quilt for what turned out to be my Uncle Melvin, who would be a big brother to her baby, my father.  Four boys.  So she threw the quilt up in the closet and drug it out when she really needed it, bound it in some blue she found lying around, and when I graduated from high school, I got the quilt.  (Score!!)  She laughed so hard telling me the story of her hopes for a daughter and the last-minute blue binding that she almost peed her pants.  This quilt is one my most precious possessions.  She had to wait for granddaughters, but she didn't mind.

 I thought of Katie, at one end of a tunnel, expecting to meet her daughter any day, dreaming of what it will be like to have a daughter.  I thought of me, at the other end of that same tunnel, reflecting on the reality of all those dreams I had harbored also, before I knew who my daughter really was, when she was just an idea in my head.  A hardly dared, hoped-for wish that I made every day, never out loud.

I thought of what it means to be a link in the chain.  The only thing that connects all that you are with all that you will be.  You are no more important than any other link, yet at times you are the most important because you alone carry the knowledge of who you are, where you came from, and how you got here today.  You have to be sure to make every effort to never leave your children alone spiritually.  You may not be able to keep them from being alone physically but who among us is ever really alone spiritually when God is always, always with us? 
You have to give them.......everything.  You have to make them strong enough to stand alone if necessary and stay true to themselves.  You have to somehow try to teach them to trust themselves, because they are worthy.  To love themselves.  To take pride in who they are.  They are everything up to this moment of NOW, which will only last a very little while.  When they are two you wonder if you can stand it and when it will ever end.  Then in a very short (too short) time you are wondering where the years went and if you should throw away old prom decorations which look like trash to you, might have meaning for her. 
I wondered when my daughter will finally take her room apart, what she will keep and how carefully she will pack it.  What do all these things mean to her?  Does she even know yet?  Has she ever taken the time to think about it or will that happen some day still in the future?  Will I be there?  I thought about writing down all that I know in case I'm not.  She comes from a long line of strong, smart, headstrong women.  This is her birthright and I have no doubt it will, in myriad ways, be her salvation.
Until then, this will all be here waiting for her, undisturbed:

So I closed the door to the recently abandoned room, I have now blogged the whole thing, and I try to assure Katie that it will be all right.  She will survive birth, joy, rebellion and finally abandonment.  Soon, too soon, she will be laying on Gracie's bed, crying over the shelf(ves) full of dolls and missing her baby who is now an independent woman walking around in the world with her own opinions, hopes and dreams.  And a room full of stuff that needs to be sorted into piles to throw away or pack really well, to wait for a baby to be born to inherit them.
Because in the end, children leave. 
Of course they do.  It is then your job to just be there.  Waiting.  Until they come back.
And they do come back, bringing you grandchildren.  New links, to be loved and held and told their own story, the story of them.  Who knows how that story will end?
It never ends. 
That's the beauty of it.