So with all my ranting and raving about all those greeting cards that the original Inez Schanker saved and my reluctance to throw them away even though they had very little connection to me, I came upon my own stash of old greeting cards, letters, play programs, and notes. Ummm. I am guilty as charged. A saver!
It is or rather was all in a box labeled “suzanne’s memories.” And they are just that. I had packed that box so well. Much from high school and college years, some that was stuffed in to fill the box, I suppose, and much later. Get well cards from my appendectomy and subsequent infection when I was 15, graduations from every level of education, christmas cards from high school and beyond. And like I’ve done before, I sorted, putting items in the yearly folders. And because I just fretted over Inez’s collection, I am determined to discard what will mean little to my girls and their girls and their girls. The remembrance is sweet. I saved half a dozen cards from Inez’s collection. I should do the same of my own.
I used one the Inez’ old cards for Julia’s Valentine from me. She loved the little skunks who wanted to cuddle. I gave her some soap in the shape of a dragon that could be a dinosaur. She is washing herself in the shower regularly and pretty soap is good incentive. After her shower last night, Julia asked if we could skip the medication and she could just put on her pjs. I let her do that. One night without medication is no big deal and she doesn’t seem to be scratching at night so going out the itch meds is also okay. I have been keeping her body so close, been taking such care. It is nice to see her want to take herself back. I have to be grateful that Julia trusted me enough to have me medicate daily all over her body. She has had no privacy for months now. During the last week or so, I’ve been allowing her to stay in one room while I go to another. And for about a month, she has been going to the bathroom alone. She still has about 20 active sores on her body. Each one is so persistent going through a dormant phase and then exploding/blooming into an itchy, bloody-looking mess. I am not sure but two new bumps have come out. What I am not sure about is whether the new bumps will be active sores, or perchance, they are merely skin irritations. Even the sores that are healing itch at times and there are probably about 10 to 15 more than the active 20. There is progress but it is so damned slow.
Julia and one of her therapists made me a candy tree with little snickers pinned all over a ball. Such a nice thought, but I am not sure how to avoid the snickers! Julia wished me a happy valentine’s day a few times during the day.
And Cheshire sent tulips to me and the beautiful dinosaur. They arrived later in the day and she was anxious enough to ask me in the afternoon whether anything arrived. The were boxed and took overnight to look happy in water. Red and white tulips from my dear girl. My dear girl who is looking for a new apartment, one to share with Chris, her boyfriend. It is a step for them, and of course, there is so much it reminds me of. Finding an apartment in New York is still no easy task.
The final box of the day was one marked “Cheshire” and what I expected to be odds and ends from her bedroom turned out to be a pile of very early art work -- streaks and hand prints, two squares and a triangle glued to a piece of construction paper. These were from Cheshire’s first four years in New York. I am sure when we moved it to Bloomington, I had some intention of going through it but apart from this box moving from NYC to Bloomington to Indy to Madison, not much has been done. I handled each piece of kid art, so much of it so inconsequential. There is a first face and some dates put on pages that I must have thought important. There are first scribbles and first words. I remember the charming child. The sprite of a girl who stood at the top of a staircase in Brooklyn and waved to her Daddy and said “Ci vediamo dopo,” see you later, and popping the final “p” and laughing with hands over her mouth.
I don’t remember ever being as nostalgic as I am these days. Everything and every time seems so precious. I know. It is expected. The timing, the exercise, the resolve. I seem to instinctively hold on to each and every piece of the life that I have lived, hold is very close, and then let it move away. I have not lived in the past before this, and I do not mean that I am living there right now, but I am remembering all the was sweet and kind in my life. Seeing the proof, and I have never really doubted it, that my happy life came not from my family of origin, but from the family I made, the friends I pulled close enough to become family. People have said that there were things they would have liked to tell their younger selves. Certainly, if I could speak to my child self, I would tell her that so many lovely things were coming and to hold on and dream, just like she/I was doing. And during the painful transition years of early adulthood, I would tell myself to be kinder, love more deeply and truer. And of course, there would be lots of career advice although I sincerely doubt whether my younger self would have accepted any of it. But what could I say, I would have nothing to say to the self who cared and is caring for my girls. Maybe more patience, always more patience.