12 June 2009


Adriana Burkhart Jennifer Barko Crushed

Today was Big A's last day of elementary school.

She got up and got dressed, chattering the entire time; excited about the day, excited for it to begin, excited for it to end, as I quietly watched the being before me.

She slipped into a pair of my shoes that fit her perfectly and twirled to the mirror before us, leaving in the wake of her joyful spin a mother only able to place a hand over her mouth to quell the emotions she felt rising within.

It was yesterday, I swear, that she started kindergarten. Just moments ago that she slipped into my shoes and tugged at the hems of my skirts and looked up at me, eliciting laughter at the sight of her trying to walk in heels far too big for her.

It seems like just a month ago that I prepared her first lunch for her. Today she made it nearly on her own, truth be told, she would have been fine without my interference, had I not insisted on fumbling around in the kitchen with her, pretending to add things to her lunch, to make things better, to show her that there is usefulness in me yet, "You still need me, Big A, please, still do, because the day you don't need me, who will I be then?"

We drove into school together, a family, the three of us. I thought of the day that I drove her into elementary school, just she and I, a long winding road ahead of us, having no idea what was in store for us. Today I drove as we listened to Little A's music and looked for the deer that are out each morning.

I wish I could ride there, in that car, in that moment, every day for the rest of my life.

We pulled up and Big A hopped out; all smiles and tallness and looking so grown, kissed Little A and was off--just as she had been that first day of kindergarten.

I recall watching her outside the door after she kissed me goodbye that morning; I remember that she never turned to look back; that she just ran forward. I remember hoping for her that she would always be as such--face forward, running to what lies ahead...that she would always have that confidence and security within her.

Today I watched her tall shape walk up the sidewalk and her friends smile and laugh and run up to her, and I waited, truth be told, for just one look back.

She didn't turn around.

It made me so happy that she never hesitated or paused, I could barely feel the pain of my heart being crushed inside my chest, until the tears streaming down my cheeks belied it.

08 June 2009

The Small Things

There we were, eagerly unwrapping our ice-cream treats. Big A and Little A were sharing one red Adirondack chair and I was sitting next to them.

Little A held up her treat, blue eyes wide open, smiling from ear to ear, "See what I gotted? Do ya? It's so awesome! I so excited!" And then she placed into my hands an orange push-up that she needed help opening.

It happened that fast; within one moment--years were erased and existed no more. I was eight years old, climbing into a wood truck, eagerly anticipating stopping into the local store after a delivery of lumber to get my orange push-up, my smiling grandfather placing a quarter on the counter to pay for it.

And just as quickly, I was back. To that moment in those red chairs. To her blue eyes. To the knowledge that he is gone; the racing of my heart when I remember again that I've spoken to him and seen him for the last time.

It's still not real, you know. Oh, it's real enough when I choke back tears and clear my throat and walk into a different room to gather myself. It's real enough when I hear my grandmothers changed voice and read her letters speaking of emptiness that I don't want to know. It's real enough watching the Tigers and trying not to remember how many days of my youth were spent lying on my stomach, viewing the Tigers with my grandparents.

It is real enough.

And yet, I must remind myself of this frequently and I worry of what is to come. If something so large, something so true, is something that I must consistently tell myself of--what will life make of me later?

It's the small things, the little moments, that quietly sneak up and startle me. The blue of the sky, hearing a laugh that sounds like his, a blown save by a Tiger's relief pitcher, an orange push-up.

I've never lost someone that I loved so much, and yet I know that there will be greater losses. The calendar days passing and my daughters so quickly growing do nothing to ease the fear that arises in me when I think of these things.

I try to capture time; to remember so much that it all becomes muddled and hazy--the things that I do remember are the small ones:

Big A's snarky comments, years beyond her age.

Little A's uncontrolled laughter anytime I squeeze her chunkins.

A red wood-truck picking up a tow-haired girl at the end of her driveway.

I miss him so much. Still. In uncontrolled ways when I am honest with myself, sobbing in the shower.

And then I walk out of the bathroom, smile at the Queens and slide orange push-ups to the top of their container, all the while pushing down the small things that keep rising to the surface.