Tiny arms wrap themselves around me as far as they can reach. The arms of an overly happy one year old that has just spent the past ten minutes dictating what I could and could not do. Pleased with my ability to follow orders, and satisfied that I gave into her demands, finger jabbing, and babbling that made no sense. She gave me a quick cuddle while her parents ooh’d and aww’d over her random gesture.
I remind myself, almost daily, that running from memories will never work.
For a while, memories were what kept me going. And then a short while after – memories were too much. Now? They come and go. Fleeting moments that race across my mind, giving me a glimpse at what was, what could have been, and what never will be. My life. A fast-forward of up’s and downs, ins and outs. Nothing ever connects or makes sense, until one day…
Some days, it doesn’t matter how much of a pep talk I give to myself.
Her picture catches me off guard – and for a moment, I think I can see the sparkle in her eye. The one that always made me smile. The shy smile that gave the impression that she was a timid child – when she was anything but. It brings me back to a different time in life. A time that wasn’t good, but certainly wasn’t bad – because how could it be bad?
I scold myself for judging. It wasn’t something I was going to do. I wasn’t going to become one of ‘those’ people who judged everyone for doing ‘wrong.’ They are trying their best, doing all they know how – yet somehow, I feel cheated. Justifying my judging acts, I tell myself that if only…followed up with a quick I would never.
It’s easy for me to say I would always love her, never get angry, and only give her the best without being selfish. Of course I can say that. The only thing left of my daughter is the dim lit memory that fizzles out like a broken light bulb. The only memories left of her, are with me. Hardly anyone knows her, and hardly anyone wants to remember her with me. So yes, I would be the most patient, caring, loving person in the world – except that I know I wouldn’t be. Should the tables be turned.
Instead I accept the hug, and for a few seconds I imagine life a little bit different. And then I turn her back to her waiting, doting parents who love her more than life itself. And retreat to the memories. The ones that flip past too quickly, and turn off before I am ready.
Sometimes, the missing runs deeper than it should. It pulses through my veins like my own blood. Spurred on by the flickers of life that don’t belong to me. One day I will learn to stop running, and embrace the memories that are my own. And when I do, I will wrap my arms around her – and never have to let her go.