A coupon for 20% off a certain brand of lotion has been pinned to the wall above my desk. I just pulled it down to check when it expires.
The coupon expired January 31, 2016.
My desk has been in a similar state of neglect. Under textbooks, scattered post-it notes, three mechanical pencils I have been looking for, and receipts (some from Wal-Mart, others from the library), I found a picture of two little girls I dearly love. Their faces poke out from a blanket as they smile, together. One of the little girls is now my sister. The other…I miss.
I do not mean to throw a pity party. After all, she is doing well. Her mother is working hard and loves her. My family even gets pictures from them occasionally, so I can see that the little girl still has the same self-assured smile.
Back when she was leaving our foster home, I wanted to hold on to the memories I had of her. I wanted to spend time writing down stories so her little quirks and personality would remain vivid in my mind. It is something I wish I had done more with previous foster children. When she left, I tried to make time to write down special memories.
Here I am a year later. I wrote down a total of one story, about the first day she came. I have not written anymore. Sometimes I did not write because the memories were painful to relive. Other times I could not write because other children had come to our home. Then again, I was also busy with a new job and college and all those other things in life. I was too busy to grieve or write.
Now as I seek out memories of her, the stories are faded. The details are fuzzy, and many whole scenes are missing. It seems that during this un-grieving year, I have lost my memories of her. My mind silently let the stories slip away. My heart grew numb to the thought that she will never be a part of my life again. My life has rearranged itself to go on without her.
Then I see the picture on my desk. The image of her peaceful smile challenges that line of thinking. In an instant, the memory is brought back to life. The mental dust is shaken off, and I remember the scene:
The summer sun drifting in and out of the clouds, its afternoon beams warming the room…
The girls, with dozens of stuffed animals and baby dolls heaped in piles all around them…
Their giggles, one clear and the other muffled by a pacifier…
Both of them lying down, their feet in opposite directions, but their heads right next to each other…
The memory is all there. It has not been lost, even if I had never written it down. The picture reminds me that it is okay. Remembering can be done in many ways.
Maybe a picture really is worth a thousand words. Maybe I did grieve this year, in a different way.
Now I think I am ready to get back to writing.