There's a bittersweet tinge to the air right now. As I weep happy tears scrolling through all the back to school photos, I think of the family I met yesterday at the mall.
My girl and I were out on a mama/daughter morning - you know, pancakes out and walking around the outdoor mall. The highlight for her – and subsequently me - was smelling all the smells at bath and body works. She was utterly delighted. I’ve long stopped going in there but she’s changed my tune again. Not since high school have I been this excited about body lotion.
She got a pink one for herself - after I looked away for one second I then turned back to find her face covered in white sickly sweet smelling lotion proclaiming with a giant lotion filled smile I YIKE DIS ONE.
So, the pink one for her and a blue one for Gah. He doesn't normally like lotion, but she thought he would for sure like this blue one. He really really loves it. "YOU GOT DIS FOR ME? THANK YOU THANK YOU BEBE!"
My girl and I know how to have a good time. We were practically skipping through that mall together, even though we have no money to buy anything, the fun is in the togetherness.
My husband and my boy were out on a daddy/son morning – you know, pancakes out and a cool park and ordering a new hot wheels car to be “downloaded” in two days (my boy’s words for how things come when you get them from the computer - my how the world has changed) and then watching some Star Wars.
It's a close tie to guess who had more fun yesterday, the boys or the girls. We were texting each other pictures the whole time to show each kid and they thought it was hilarious that they were both eating pancakes at different places.
I, on the other hand, was having a mini crisis toward the end of our outing. We got these terrible umbrella strollers for our vacation, and I got these clips that held them together like a double stroller for when we used them together (always) but not this day. No this day we were using one stroller because the mall is huge and my girl is known to either run or need to sit down because her legs are so tired. Dramatics, much, my dear 3 year old girl?
I am not used to a single stroller. I am not used to a single kid. I don't know how to conduct myself in the presence of one kid. Having one hand free. Having to only look in one direction.
We were at the play area at the park and we happened upon a twin family. I walked up to this family and started chatting as I always do with twin families and said, “My kids are over there. They're 3 and a half”. That was when I noticed they were looking at me like a loon. Their peculiar look made me think of my friends who have lost their kids to cancer or other tragedies. This must be what it feels like. Kind of. To have your child with you one second and the next day/month/year to well, not have them with you. To feel as though you are missing a limb. So I cried. That poor twin family certainly had their hands full yesterday. Not with their baby twins, BUT WITH ME.
People lose their kids every single day. All around us. Kids are dying. Not just to cancer and not just in our country and not in ways we can even come close to understanding the why of. There is no why. There is no, it happens for a reason.
I thought of a thing that happened the night before, that happens quite often, but my husband captured it this time. I was on the couch having my 3pm miracle coffee and I was all by myself. Then one by one, each kid comes over and plants themselves on me. Next to me. Touching me. I was momentarily annoyed because can a mom get a second alone? Then I just laughed and took it in because this is the good stuff. This is the stuff I'll miss one day and I'll be damned if I'm going to miss it as it's happening.
My kids start their little 2 hour a day Chicago Park District preschool in two weeks and every time I think about them going to school my heart simultaneously does a leap of joy and falls into a pit of sadness for their littleness. For their attachment to me. Because I'm a selfish human.
They’re 3. As my husband says, every day for them is the best day ever. Today is my favorite. And the next today and the next today. May I never take any of these days for granted, as I was so keenly aware of at the mall yesterday when speaking with that family, these todays can be ripped away from us at any moment.
Life is incredibly sad. It’s these everyday little things that keep me from going off a cliff. It’s going to the mall and not buying a thing except a cheap breakfast and tiny bottles of lotion because sometimes a little money can buy some happiness. I can’t cling to my kids to keep me going or my husband or any outside person or thing. But they sure help. When it’s just me and it’s really really quiet, I weep. I mean, I weep all the time because all I do is cry with gratitude, but the sadness. It’s always there. Because life is incredibly sad. And the reason it is so incredibly sad is because it has value today. If I were not sad about this life and the terrible things that happen, then I would know I was in trouble again.
I want to be able to be sad. I want to feel in my bones that what I have is worth keeping and fighting for. I want to feel all the feelings and know that they will pass, but also, just know I’m capable of walking through them. Of helping my kids walk through it. Sometimes walking through it includes buying the tiny bottles of lotion and skipping with your little girl through a wildly overpriced suburban mall.
It's Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Here are 6 ways you can help.
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