Last week I made a dream of my daughter’s come true.
I stood in front of a class at a local high school as a “teacher”. A visiting artist, actually. I spent three days, an hour each day, leading the students in a watercolor demonstration. Nervous initially I ended up enjoying myself, immensely.
Upon graduating from high school my daughter decided she wanted to attend Grand Valley University. Her major: criminal justice. The reason: she thought Scully was cool. For those of you who don’t who Scully is . . . she is the female FBI agent and partner, to the X-Files Mulder. Becca liked the suits Scully wore, her “accessories” i.e. gun, handcuffs, smart mind, and her close proximity to Fox Mulder.
Becca’s freshman year courses changed her mind about going into law enforcement, though. She said to me: “Mom, did you know that officers lay their hand on the back window of a car they are approaching at a traffic stop in case something goes wrong? Then there will be proof that the car, and people, were involved in whatever happened.” That terrified me. It scared her as well. She decided to change her major, slightly, to work with kids within the system.
This was the path she walked for a few semesters. Then came a moment, actually working with kids for a class, when she changed her major again. Becca said, “Mom, it’s heartbreaking. It’s like once kids get into the system for being in trouble they rarely get out again. I’d rather work with kids when they are young. When I can help them get onto a course in life that will keep them out of trouble.” Once again, her major changed.
She decided to pursue a degree in early elementary education. It was a perfect fit for my girl! She was often the “go-to” for parents looking for a good babysitter. One of her jobs, while attending college, was at a daycare center. She absolutely loved the children. Her job, when she was killed, was as a nanny for a little boy. My daughter, my Becca, would have changed the lives of any child she encountered positively. Of this, I have no doubt.
Last week, as I stood in front of the class, I thought of my daughter. A future that could have been, SHOULD have been, rushed in. How would she have decorated her classroom? Would her students love her? Would she, as she always planned, be working in a bilingual school? What would be her favorite part of being a teacher? Would I be a visiting artist in front of her students?
All of these thoughts made my head swirl. I silently stopped myself from spinning out of control.
Diane, I told myself, you are standing exactly where your daughter wanted to be standing. Exactly where she should be standing. Don’t think about the should haves, might haves, could haves . . . those will paralyze you. Think about Becca. She’s with you. She’s here. Do this for her. Don’t waste this chance to fulfill a dream of hers, momma. Do this for your girl.
So, I did. I did it for both of us.
I stood up and confidently told the class about myself. The art teacher, Danielle, shared pictures of my work. She showed two pieces I had in a local art competition. Both of them are about losing Becca. Then, for my daughter and myself, I jumped right into the demonstration. It wasn’t until the three days were finished that I broke down to cry.
I cried for my girl who never got to fulfill her own dreams. My tears are for the children who will never know her love. I will always believe the world dimmed and is a lesser place because of her absence. I sobbed because I should NOT be the one who realizes her dreams. I cried until there were no more tears that night.
When you are a bereaved mother there is always another side to the joyous moments in our life. It’s inevitable that the “other side” balloons up and insists we pay attention. We just try to do it in private because, often, outsiders don’t understand how there is so much sadness entwined with joy. This is our existence . . .until we are no longer.
I’ll take the sad with the happy, any day. Every day. It means I am living life and carrying my Becca, through it, with me.
Below are the pieces of art I talked about in this blog.
The watercolor done during the demonstration last week.