Proof

29 Mar

As we approached the high school, my daughter started veering towards the first set of doors. “We have to go in the main entrance, Honey,” I said. “Up here.”

“How do you know that’s the main entrance?”

“Your sister used to go here,” I said, smiling at the memory of her sister, late and harried, tossing things into her backpack on the way out the door, the three of us pulling up to the curb in front of this entrance, the victory of arriving before the first bell. She doesn’t remember all the times I strapped her into her car seat, still in pajamas, to drive her sister to school.

And she was too young to come with her Mama and me to hear her sister perform on the high school stage. Late nights past bedtime. Big words. Big poems. Teenage themes. She was only two, three, four.

I walked to the main entrance now with her hand in mine. “Do you remember sitting in those bleachers over there?” I asked. “When your sister graduated?”

She looked at me strangely. “Graduated from what?” she wanted to know.

“Graduated from high school. Right before you started kindergarten.”

Of course she didn’t recall. I get it. Memory is like that. Looking at a picture of herself on the bleachers next to Grandpa, she might remember the field, all those dresses, the thrill of our family picking her sister out in the crowd, even if she couldn’t see from a distance who was really who.

“How do you know that’s the main entrance?” she wanted to know now.

It’s in my bones. It is a piece of my history with your sister. It’s something that simply is.

There were children on stage with my daughter, in her elementary school talent show, that reminded me of my stepdaughter’s friends, the girls who gathered in our living room before school as I sat on the floor playing with my baby girl. She would reach for a book. One of the girls would hand it to her. Another would sing her a song, or ask me what she liked to do.

A young girl on stage pushed her hair back the way my stepdaughter’s friend used to do. It was a gesture. Nothing else about her was the same.

But it was the proof I needed – that I had been here, that I had watched these beautiful young women growing up, that I had been present. For a few minutes, this show was not about my youngest.

It’s in my bones. It is a piece of my history with your sister. It’s something that simply is.

I remembered her sister on other stages — in her flamenco skirt, in high heels, in jeans.

CarnationIt didn’t matter to me that I was the only one who remembered.

I remembered. Today, that’s all I needed.

I held the carnation up to my face, inhaling — this flower I would give my daughter after today’s show. It was hot pink. Some might call it red.

I guess what you call it depends on your point of view.

I wasn’t going to squabble over words. It smelled like a flower. Today, that’s all that mattered.

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One Response to “Proof”

  1. traceybecker March 29, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    Sigh… such lovely words for your memories. Beautiful.

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