I was 8 hours behind my group and still feeling sub par and questioning if I should have packed a second pair of pants. I was determined to make it by dinner and not miss out on anymore time I had been looking forward to with her. I drove alone, passenger-less, having sent her ahead that morning to the West Virginia Dance Festival. Sometime in the middle of the night I had woken up with what I thought was the beginning of the salmonella outbreak that my family is eminently doomed for as discussed in 12 Things I Should Probably Quit Doing Just days ago I had made two pans of brownies, loaded with chocolate chip cookie dough chunks and I licked the bowl and had eaten more than my usual amount of raw egg laden dough nervously preparing them for an upcoming presentation I was giving. I thought to myself, “if my presentation leaves them wanting more, at least they will be satisfied by my crankin’ brownies”. I was fortunately the only victim but I’m still quite sure I will lick my next brownie bowl.
I drove alone, disappointed and wondering if Sophia had recognized or missed my absence. She is 11 you know and her friends are becoming very important. I did wear an outfit she likes of mine. I hope she seems excited to see me. I remember when she always chose me first. She loved to sit in my lap, as a tiny little girl, straddling my waist and kissing my left then right cheek over and over again like we were French people greeting one another. I remember her laugh and smile between each kiss.
I turned on the radio and hit scan hoping to find something to inspire or entertain me. I started thinking about the presentation I have just given the day before discussing “The Vestibular System: Diagnosing and Treating Common Disorders”. Pretending my coworkers had a choice to attend made me feel a little less nervous but I couldn’t stop thinking about “the pause”. Was it obviously long? Did they see me holding in a snicker? I was describing a torsional eye movement that is often seen with a common disorder and said something about the eyes torqueing in their orbits. Is that right? I said to myself. Torqueing? Why did that sound wrong? Torqueing? Torqueing? Twerking? Torqueing? Twerking? Thanks Miley Cyrus, there went faking the professionalism I was trying to exude. I got back on track in what I have decided was a reasonable amount of time and what I’m pretending looked more like deep thought preceding a profound statement verses an awkward pause. I do however strongly recommend, if you ever see eyes twerking in their orbits during an ocular motor exam: STOP IMMEDIATELY and refer to a neurologist with a stat recommendation for an EEG and a brain MRI including the brain stem. I’m quite confident that eye twerking does not fall within my scope of practice as a physical therapist.
I hope we get a chance to do some Spring clothes shopping in “the big city” while we are gone. I’m exhausted with Wal-Mart and Kmart’s wardrobe selections. She has grown so much this winter. Will she like anything I pick out this year? I bet she won’t want to go to Claire’s and accessorize, looking for bows and barrettes to complete her look, like I loved doing with her when she was five. Moments later I realized my Sirius radio was still scanning. Those of you who can’t imagine not noticing this, obviously do not have a third child who absolutely never stops talking. I can tune about anything out quite easily and applying my essential oils to my inner wrists and temples helps. While I don’t know what my 2 older children will become when they grow up, Haley is surely destined for a bright career as a QVC host.
Other than the occasional, unexpected wave of nausea and predictable, prepubescent look from my daughter that clearly stated, “I can’t believe you just said/did that”, we had a beautiful weekend together. Being my oldest of three, I miss being with her even though I see her everyday. Thankfully, I found some rekindling that at least I had been looking for. On our drive home Sunday evening, my sweet, tired passenger slept. It was raining so I slowed down…but mostly to enjoy and soak the moment in. Curled up in the front seat she lay like she used to in her infant seat in the back; peacefully resting under my watch. Just me and her…alone. The hillsides were covered by new spring redbuds and speckles of white, wild dogwoods opening. Above them all in the tips of the tallest trees glowed a lime green light of tender leaves waiting for a long, full day of sunshine to fully come out and turn dark green. Time was changing her as well. My sweet, peaceful reminiscing was repetitively interrupted by hints of panic that kept trying to intrude.
I’d see a bridge or interstate overpass ahead through my windshield wiper blades and look forward to that sudden, momentary absence of noise that is so loud and pronounced; as the last raindrop hits my car on one side and the first to hit on the other. How long was I dry?, I’d think to myself. What would I need to know to find out? The width of the bridge, the length of my car, and my speed. Yes that would do it. But what if the rain was coming down crooked? The questions. Would the height of the bridge matter? The unknowns. Would the density of drops per square inch change the experience for me? Anxiety kept trying to steal my moment. I forced myself to stop thinking about my college physics class so I could fully enjoy the next bridge.
While there are constants in life, like the width of the bridge, that I cannot change, there are many variables that surround the same situation; some I can control and others I can’t. I can look at my sleeping beauty sometimes and almost panic thinking about time passed and I can imagine my future with her slipping past me just as quick. While I can’t slow time or lengthen life or tell the rain when and how to fall, I can change how I move through it, so I won’t miss that lime green glow of spring that lasts only a few sunsets. A gift of Spring I always enjoy… that can be easily missed if I’m distracted by the noise of my life stuck on scan, jumping from one event to the next, forgetting to soak any of it in.
While there are so many thing I hope to teach my daughter, I hope she learns that even very short, even silly periods of time can be moments filled with experience if her mind and senses aren’t tune out by busy noise. I hope she will be filled with great memories of time spent with me but that she will have many little ones; like driving under interstate bridges in rain storms or watching trees glow in the Spring, that will top her list as favorites with me. This will let me know that she learned how to live awake, instead of simply passing through distracted, missing beautiful, simple, normal, little moments that make life full and satisfying.