Watching them, even when they are yelling or dancing or being completely wild, is sort of a meditation. They don't see me yet and my whole focus is turned to whatever creative scheme Lily's dreamed up and recruited Chloe for. Maybe Lily is trying to teach Chloe ballet or french. Or maybe she is trying to convince her to sit on a sheet and be pulled around on a magic carpet ride. Or they are simply laughing and tearing the house apart. It is like a movie to me and since my mind is never, ever still, I find myself wandering backwards.
I remember a time, when I was not a mother, and when I lived only for myself. I remember when Lily was born--I was so scared for her and for me. And I remember when I held her in my arms, 2 weeks after she was born and all 2 lbs of her crawled up in my arms like a bug and we were one again. And when Lily first said Mama and how she would smile at me every night from her crib before I said goodnight. I remember the fear when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the joy when we felt when we all left the hospital together. I remember her first days of school, dragging the therapy walker in and hoping that she would adapt. And I remember Lily walking, for the first time all by herself, in the handbag department of Nordstroms last Black Friday. I remember her face when she first saw her baby sister and I remember how Lily held my hand at every single ultrasound and told me she loved me--always so wise, even when she was 2.
In Chloe, I remember the surprise pregnancy and all the fear and joy and hope. I remember my pride that my 3 lb baby girl could breathe on her own and eat like a champ. I remember her first steps, the first time we heard her little Bea Arthur voice and the old lady handbag she carries around. I remember the first time she smiled at me and I knew that we were one too. I remember how she laughs when she sees a picture of herself, still so intrigued by technology. I remember how much she still needs me, even though she is this independent tiny girl, and that someday when she is old and married, she will still need me.
And in those girls, I see myself and remember what it was like to play and to have the whole world at your fingers tips. The promise and new discoveries and the endless possibilities. I see Mike and I see the boy I fell in love with and the man I adore. I see my parents and my brother. My grandparents and my cousins. I see my best friends, old and new, and remember all those days spent laughing and fighting like sisters.
I see in those girls every single moment I cried and every single moment I laughed. It is all there, always a part of the picture, even when you can't see it. This year, more than any other year, I am thankful for those memories. Those memories are a life--a life that will go on when I am not here.
I am thankful for my girls, who are my legacy, a legacy that God entrusted me to protect. It is with humility and pure gratitude that I say thank you this year for memories and life and legacy.