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It was like a scene out of some bad tv show. There I was, curled up in a ball on my bathroom floor, watching the second hand of my watch ticking by. Three
minutes? Like hell! Felt more like a year and a half. Hey if you're laughing
then you've been there, am I right? And oh yeah, what kind of crummy joke is it
have to pee on a stick to find out if you're pregnant? Who's the sick
sonofabitch that thought that one up?
Times up. Moment of truth. 17 years old and praying to God almighty
that there are not two lines on the stick. Please oh please oh please oh please.
They tell you when you're pregnant that when you become a mother it'll be the
hardest and most rewarding thing you've ever done with your life. I went into
parenthood with my eyes wide open. I knew it would be though, I wasn't
sugar-coating anything. The thing is, it was twice as hard as anything I could
have ever imagined. And twice as rewarding.
My mother told me that once you hold your own baby in your arms you'll finally
understand the true meaning of love. She was right. You can't have a baby in the
house and not be awestruck. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a one year
old? I mean really, really looked? They are full of amazement and wonder.
Exploring, searching, questioning. And then it dawns on you - they're seeing the
world for the first time. Every so often you've got to look at the world through
the eyes of a child. I mean get down to their level and see what it's all about.
I used to get down on my knees and follow her around. You know, seeing things
from her perspective. It sucks being little. I mean, a countertop is a huge
obstacle for a two-year-old. Washing your hands, getting to a faucet, reaching
your glass of milk - not easy. Not to mention all the crotches and asses you
have to look at all day long.
You come to realize that the things you take for grandted are completely new for
you child. A few years back I was racing through town trying to get to my
sister's house. We were late for a birthday party and it'd been raining all
morning. Then I hear this little tiny voice from the backseat, "Look Mommy, a
rainbow." I glanced out the passenger door and saw it. "Uh huh, that's nice."
There were a few moments of silence, and then her little voice once more said,
"I've never seen a rainbow before."
Reality check. Four years old and she'd never seen a rainbow. I mean, they're
neat and all, but they're just rainbows, right? Well, not when it's the first
time you've ever looked at one. They're in all the storybooks, all the TV shows,
but it never occurred to me that she'd never seen one before. I pulled the car
into the next parking lot and we piled out. We must've stayed there for 15,
maybe 20 minutes, just looking at the rainbow...talking about it, taking it all
in. I still remember her smile. There's no way you can look into her beautiful
little face, look deep into those blue eyes and not know that there's a God.
Because only God could make something that precious, that innocent.
I remember it was in first grade that Sarah had her first experience with
Lincoln Logs. Those little brown wooden sticks that you're supposed to be able
to build log cabins and barns and things out of. Apparently during free time
this is what she would be doing, making little Lincoln Log villages to play
with. She always asked me to get some for her Birthday or for Christmas.
"Maybe some day. When I get around." Actually, I figured if she had some to play
with every day at school what was the point of me going out and buying some for
her. I mean, she could play with them there at school for free, right? Well, one
day when I came home from work, my mother met me at the door.
"You've got to come and see what your daughter's been doing." I walked into the
kitchen and there, on the kitchen table is a log cabin made out of my tampons.
"Look what I made, Mommy." I bought her the Lincoln Logs.
Her fifth year was far and away the funnest. I love five-year-olds. They still
respect you as a parent, love you as a mother, and look up to you as an
infallible leader. Five years old: kindergarten, learned how to ride a bike,
lost her first tooth, started gymnastics, began to read and write, learned how
to do the hula hoop, tied her own shoes, fed the goldfish on her own, and wiped
her own butt. It was a GREAT year.It was around that time that Sarah came up to me one night and presented me with this. "It's a round Tuit. Now whenever you say you "need to get a round to it,
you'll already have one." She had cut it out of the National Geographic for Kids
Magazine. The edges were perfectly rounded. I remember thinking, "When did you
get so good with a pair of scissors?"
A year later I was finally able to move out of my parents house. Sarah and I
moved into a three bedroom apartment just before the start of second grade.
Grandma and Grandpa were only two miles away so the after school babysitting
thing was all taken care of.
And then I got the phone call that she was dead. Yeah, just like that. You
didn't see that one coming, did you? Well, imagine my surprise. In the movies
there's always this sinister music that leads up to some traumatic event. You
know, kind of a premonition of impending doom. Well, it's not like that. THere
was no warning. Just a phone call. She's dead. She fell into the Parkington
River and they couldn't find her. She had two friends that were with her. They
were rock hopping along the riverbank. She slipped. THe river pours into the
ocean about a mile and a half downstream. We never found her. Gone. Totally
and utterly gone. I was busy making lunch and putting it into her Winnie the
Pooh lunchbox. THe next second I have no daughter. SHe's dead. And I can't
even say good-bye, because we can't find her body to have a funeral.
It's a little bit harder to believe in God now.
I suppose my reaction to losing Sarah was similar to any adult who's ever lost a
child. I was numb for weeks. My life was devoted to her, I did everything was
for her. What was I to do now? I stayed home for two months. I lost 35 pounds,
was hospitalized three times for depression, exhaustion and was once given
51-49. Nobody knew what to do with me, but truth be told, I just wanted to be
left alone. Just leave me alone.
Finally, my boss Kelly came by my place. She went through all the standard
lines: Our hearts are breaking for you. Everything will be ok. I can't imagine
what you are going through right now. If there's anything I can do to help just
let me know- I hate that one. But then she said, you know that you'll always
have a place at the store when you're ready. YOu can come back back to work
whenever you get around to it.
I went to work the next day...
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