October 17, 2013

The Life We Write

"There either is or is not, that’s the way things are. The colour of the day. The way it felt to be a child. The saltwater on your sunburnt legs. Sometimes the water is yellow, sometimes it’s red. 
But what colour it may be in memory, depends on the day. 
I’m not going to tell you the story the way it happened. I’m going to tell it the way I remember it." 

Millie and Walter. These two little souls are mentioned quite often on this blog. It's because I love them. It's because they matter. It's because they are who I spend more time with than anyone else on earth. They are my story, day in and day out.

But sometimes I forget that Sky and I are the stuff of theirs. I forget that we're authoring their childhood the way our own parents authored ours.

Hopefully, we'll take them on a vacation someday. We'll pack suitcases, stuff the car full of snacks and pillows, and set off for far away lands, even if those lands are only Chicago or St. Louis. And they'll say, "Remember when we got lost in that one tiny town with the funny sign? And we ate those sandwiches? And we found that little shop?" We'd come home with a sticky car and lots of laundry to wash. We'd come home with trinkets, brochures, and souvenirs. They'll lose those, of course, but they'll have the stories.

And they'll say, "Do you remember the way we used to go to that greasy spoon diner for breakfast sometimes, and we'd sit at the counter to watch them crack eggs open and sizzle on the big griddle? We'd watch the pancake batter spill into perfect circles and turn a delicious shade of gold. Dad would always flip through the Thrifty Nickel and talk about the cars he wanted, and Mom would spend the the time handing us more napkins and reminiscing about how much we'd grown since the last time we were there. She gets so emotional."

And they'll say, "Remember when the power went out during that big storm, and we all cuddled in the living room, watching the flashes of lightning shine briefly on the ceiling and then disappear with a boom of thunder? Remember how we lit a few candles, staying up extra late just to make sure the world was calm again? Remember the stories they told us to make us feel better, like how it sounded as if God was going bowling?"

And maybe they'll think about the time we went ice skating and they finally got the hang of it. The times the training wheels came off and they wobbled down a bumpy sidewalk while we cheered behind them. The dress up in my shoes or Sky's uniform. The lectures and menacing looks we gave to boyfriends and girlfriends. The way their dad always wrestled with them and their mom always wrote about them. The frantic search all over the house for birthday presents they just know I bought and hid somewhere. The disgust at seeing their parents kiss. The times Sky and I were oh-so-unfair, and they would promise each other that their own kids would have it better someday.

Millie may never recall the nights Sky and I stood next to her bed, smoothing her hair from her forehead and whispering about all our memories of her. And Walter will never know of the times he leaned against me in the rocking chair, my tears sprinkling in his hair as I whisper prayers of thankfulness for him. They won't know how tired they made us, how worried they made us, or how indescribably happy we are to have them.

But they'll remember practicing songs from music lessons like they were giving us a concert. And homeschooling. Neighborhood walks in the late evening, dashing far ahead of Sky and I and finding treasures on the sidewalk. Stories about the days they were each born, told elaborately and with the same jokes every time. Trips to the pool where they accidentally swallowed the water. And homemade birthday cakes, the biggest Christmas tree that they helped pick out, and the sleepovers with friends when we knocked on the door and reminded them to keep it down. Those small, everyday moments, made large and legendary by all their retellings.

I have always wanted to be a writer, and dazzle the world with beautiful poetry and prose. How silly of me to forget I am already penning such important stories.

8 kind comments from you:

Chantal said...

This is beautiful. This entire post!

Jen said...

Everything about this post is beautiful. You have know idea how inspiring your writing is, thank you for sharing it with the rest of us.

Kaylee said...

Yes! This! Just yes. I love this. And needed this reminder. Sometimes I can get so caught in the boring daily grind and check-lists, that I forget I am the story of my kids lives - and to just sit and play, or go dance in the rain, or take an adventure walk, or "get lost" on the way to the store will be what they remember and hold fast to. There is so much more than my to-do's and the laundry and the dishes. There is beautiful life to be lived.

Katie said...

This really is so true. When I look back at my childhood, the things that I remember aren't the big monumental things or my friends, what I remember is the fun stuff I did with my family. Game nights, playing music, movies, family outings. even if they were just the grocery store, kids remember that stuff :)

Sarah Shaffer said...

I am breathless!

Julie Danielle said...

This is just lovely!

Nicole Marie said...

Gorgeous. You are a brilliant writer.

Fran said...

This is all so true - most the memories I have from my childhood are those small moments and fun trips.

Just make sure that at least one of those road trips is to Walter's godmother's house ;)

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