dear daughters: wishing back
Oh, dear daughters …
I didn’t expect days like these.
Days when the people I love, the ones that have given the most to me and your dad, get older. Their eyes soften, deep pools of blue and gray. Their hands tell quiet stories of how the years have passed.
I find myself wishing back. Somehow hoping to make the photos of familiar, smiling faces from years ago match the people I see now. Wishing back even two summers ago when Gdad and I sat on the front porch enjoying a happy hour of red wine, thinly sliced salami and crackers.
He pointed across the porch to the mountains. Hand shaking because of Parkinson’s, as he called out every single mountain by name. Your dad knows all of those mountains by name. He calls them out to you. Gdad taught him the names of all those mountains. But you know that, yes?
Oh, gosh. I keep crying. Because I hate how Parkinson’s is bossing Gdad’s body around.
I guess the thing is, I really don’t know how to do this well.
I wish someone would take me by the hand, lead me through, tell me how to do it right. Tell me that it’s all going to be okay. But it’s not. Growing old and watching the people you love most grow old is hard. It just is …
This week, it was your aunt standing in Gdad’s closet, sorting through his suits and flannel shirts. Tears falling freely while she was on the phone with her sister a state away. It was your dad working his through boxes of old letters and newspaper clippings. They’re acting as family historians to his treasures. What a big job. I’m glad they have each other.
Your brother called yesterday morning when I was running errands. I pulled into a parking lot so I could talk to him without the call being dropped. I wanted to catch him up on everything that’s going on. After I hung up, I sat in the car and cried and cried. Gracious, I miss him and Amy. Not sure why Colorado feels so far away right now.
In our garage, there is a large table covered by a pink floral sheet you two had on your beds when you shared a room together back when you were only two and five years old. The table was anniversary present your dad and I bought all those years ago. I know it’s a big, ridiculous waste ~ the table sitting in the garage with that sheet draped over it. And I’ve thought a million times about giving it away or selling it.
The problem is that when I run my fingers along the top, I can still feel the places where you two and your brother did math homework when you were in grade school. Small hands holding number two pencils, pressing hard past the paper into the wood. Indentations adorn the table. It’s a treasure of mine.
I can’t seem to let go of the table. I’m wishing back I guess.
I told you I don’t know how to do this well.
I don’t know how to do growing up or growing old. And I don’t know how to do letting go. But I’m walking closely beside feelings, acknowledging every memory and the people that brought me here. And I’m holding your dad close as we walk through those memories too. Because really, that’s the sweet part of life. Yes?
If our lives weren’t so exquisite, so beautiful and if the people in our lives hadn’t matter so terrifically, then this wouldn’t be so hard.
Growing up and growing old and letting go is hard when life is beautiful.
Tonight I’ll go to bed. And in the morning, I’ll wake up and do it all again. I’ll walk through these hard days and thank God for my ridiculously beautiful life and all the beautiful people in it.