Thursday, August 25, 2011
Grace and Flip Flops
Tiny pairs of sparkling flip flops. In and out they walk on tiny feet. I am so glad I work with adolescents most of the time, but this week we are screening elementary children. I have sparkly flip flops at my house, too. Sealed up in a box in the attic. They cannot find the little feet that should be in them. They didn’t get to go to kindergarten this year. Didn’t get to hear the little blond girl learn to write her last name. Learn to read. Feel her toes start to hang off the edge as she outgrew them. Get dusty on the playground or have chocolate milk spilled on them at lunch. No, they didn’t get to go to kindergarten.
I fight off the feelings of anxiety. The impulse to run away. Too many little blonde ponytails with faces that are not hers. Then I see them. The rainbow painted toenails. Exactly the way she wanted them the last Sunday when we were painting our nails together in bed. “Mommy, please paint my toenails rainbow colors!” she pleaded. I didn’t have the right colors with me so I promised her we would do it next time. The next time was at the funeral home.
The rainbow toes walk out the door. And I look down at mine. Ten months later. Still ten lonely, painted toes that should be twenty. Our counselor says we should do something special on the one year anniversary of her death- her heaven day, as some have called it. But what? How do you commemorate her and not the horror? No one prepares you for this in the school of life. There are no lesson plans for coping with every parent’s nightmare. And what about the anniversaries in the future… the one when no one remembers? The year it comes and goes and everyone else has forgotten? I suppose the grace for that day won’t be until then. Today I just need the grace to handle the sparkly flip flops and the little rainbow toes while missing hers so much…