Thursday, April 7, 2011

Remembering for two

She takes my hand as we walk towards our car at the preschool parking lot and says, “Wemember my painting flew away and fell on the street with all the cars? Wemember, mommy?”

I recall with a smile. “Yes, I remember.”

She had insisted on holding on to her preschool project on a particularly windy day but alas, the gusts were too much for a two-year-old, displacing her piece of art from her hand and onto the busy street. What surprised me was finding it, tire-marked but relatively intact, in her personal cubby the next day. A kind soul had picked it up and handed it to the school. What a wonderful, faith-restoring gesture.

While the incident itself is stuff of warm fuzzies, it was her asking me to “wemember” that made a gentle impression on my soul. Of all the things she has learned to say, “remember” resonates most with me these days. Today is the last day we will be here in this house. While I’m excited for our new beginning as a growing family, I’m also feeling rather nostalgic. This is our first family home after all. A place of firsts.

As I think about all those moments that occurred here, I want to turn to my daughter and say,

Remember when we first brought you home? It was a chilly, gloomy November day, and you looked so tiny and frail in your vibrant orange car seat.

Remember when you first smiled at me from the changing table (good poop perhaps?) at exactly six weeks after we brought you home? That’s when I knew that, despite the new-mama frenzy and amidst the fears, everything will be all right.

Remember the nights we spent together with you nuzzled against me as the sound of your happy suckling fills the space around us? When you looked up at me, I couldn’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else. Or anyone else.

Remember the giggles that only your daddy knew (and still knows) how to conjure from the depths of your belly? He always made you laugh best. You would shriek, “daddy!” the moment you heard him at the door, followed by a fervent request, “upside down?”, hoping for circus stunts that only he could manage (and I could hardly stomach).

Remember all those warm-weather days on the back porch? We would do everything outside -  bubbles, meals, plane-sightings and water (you always loved playing with water) - to make up for the days of a long winter’s hibernation.

Remember when I fed you your first meal of rice and curry by hand? It was a moment I’d been waiting for since you were born - one that mirrors my own childhood, when my mom used to feed me in the same manner. (You liked it, by the way, and have preferred spicy flavors over any others since).

Remember the walks we took outside the house in search of the first signs of spring and banner planes that would turn around by us to head back to Wrigley Field? The time when our dog, Kirby, was not blind? When we shopped for and brought home your first Christmas tree? And second? And the presents that you were excited to open? The trips we took to explore places that were often new to us, but more importantly, the homecoming that followed? The time you held our family together? One of the biggest snowstorms of the century that had us all staying home on our first ever “snow day”? The first card we made together for your daddy for Valentine’s day? When you demanded a baby sister after we told you about the growing baby in my tummy? When you first said “wemember”?

I know it’s impossible for me to capture every wonderful, hallmark moment here. Or in my brain for that matter. These are but fleeting impressions on your always-absorbing mind, your ever-expanding capacity to learn, to process, to recall. Even then, your experience of these firsts will be lost to you as new memories inevitably replace the old.

And perhaps that’s why these words are here. So that you will know what life was like before you could remember. Before this next chapter of our lives, there was another. And oh what sweet remembrance for those of us who can.

Because you were there.