In the spring of 2002, my daughter invited me to go on her senior spring break trip with her. It was a trip of a lifetime! While in Los Angeles, we visited the famous stretch of sidewalk outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Becca was beyond thrilled when her feet fit perfectly into the prints made by Marilyn Monroe. She was intrigued by the fact that she occupied the same space, for a moment, that the actress once had by standing in her footprints. My daughter had me take a picture from every angle! For months after that, she would casually throw out the fact that she and Marilyn shared the same shoe size. It was adorable. I’ll never forget that trip.
In a medium sized box covered in pink fabric, with Asian designs, I keep a half dozen very intimate pieces of my daughter’s life. Of those things, there are two that are the most difficult to hold, but give me the feeling of being where she once was. The space she inhabited while alive. Something like the feeling she had standing in those impressions, in the cement, years ago.
The hardest object to hold, I look at a lot, but pick up rarely. They were a part of her every day life. Of school. Her job. Of our hours together watching television. When I pick them up, and fold open the earpieces, I’m doing what she did every morning for years. I place her glasses on my nose, and KNOW, I am occupying the small space I saw her in every day of her last years. My eyes are looking out through the lenses she used to see her world. The tiny arch that rested on the bridge of her nose . . . now rests on mine. My eyes are where her beautiful long lashed ones used to be. And it makes my heart ache. So I don’t wear them often. But when I do . . . I feel closer to where she used to be.
The other object is so small, and seemingly insignificant, that it might surprise some that I cherish it. A simple cream cloth covered rubber band. Caught around the rubber band is some of my daughter’s soft brown hair. I don’t know how many times she used it to throw her long hair up into a ponytail or messy bun. I wish I could ask her. I’ll hold it and stroke the small bit of hair over and over, remembering how it felt to touch her hair when she put her head into my lap. I’m starting to be wary of touching the hair too much. What if it disintegrates from all of the handling and it disappears?? I can’t chance that. But I still need to stroke her hair some days.
There is one more object that is priceless to me. One afternoon, Becca and I helped the boys make hand prints in plaster of Paris as gifts for family members. There was a bit of it left over, so before it set, she poured it into an aluminum pan and made a print of her hand. I don’t remember how long after her death that I found it, but I am so grateful I did. I’m also grateful, that she decided to make it that day long ago. When I want to hold her hand, I place mine in the print she left. The surface isn’t white anymore. The edges aren’t as sharp. No longer can I see the lines from her skin. But when I place my hand in her’s, I feel a sense of peace. Of connection. This is the closest I will come to actually touching her again until I join her.
These small intimate pieces of her life, our life, will have to do until I hold her again in my arms. I want to cup her face with my hands and place a kiss on her forehead. Hear her laugh and call to me. Just hold my baby in my arms. For now, I have to visit the past to be with her again.
Take notice of the small pieces of each others lives. That’s where the love is. In the intimate moments in the tiniest of places. It really is the small things, I promise.