Last night, one of my twins came to me crying. I was standing in the kitchen, putting together the last bits of our family’s dinner. “Mommy,” she said, all chin quivers and big hazel eyes. “I’m so sorry for you.” Then, as tears streamed down her freckled eight year old face, she explained that she had been thinking about it a lot, and was so sad for me that when I was driving the wind took my scarf. She said that she loves me and couldn’t replace it, and knows that I lost something important to me.
This girl. She has a way of catching me off guard. She, and her sister, have been surprising me ever since two pink lines showed up on the stick in my bathroom. Three weeks to the day after that, they surprised me again during what I thought would be a routine ultrasound. “There’s your first baby,” the tech said. And before I could argue out loud that my first baby was at home being babysat for this appointment, she said, “And there is your second baby.” While pointing to two fast heartbeats.
She is a game changer. She is more than I expected. And still, continues to be more than I would have thought of.
I had just been talking to a group of some of my favorite women the night before, as we sat outside on patio furniture. We had shared our writings and our souls, and also plates of appetizers. One of the things that had come up in conversation was how our children are so sensitive. That they talk about things that happen to movie characters, even days after the movie has ended. After we saw Finding Dory, my own daughter had wept with grief at the thought of Dory being alone for so long, and having been separated from her parents. For days she spoke about this, processing, until finally knitting together a silver lining, a daisy chain of at least’s, to give herself, and Dory, some closure.
Now, my attention went from chopping vegetables, to focusing on my crying daughter.
It happened three weeks ago, the event she was talking about. I was driving home on the interstate, windows down. My minivan was bursting at the seams with tired, cranky children. I despise driving outside of the city after dark, and so we were racing the sun, blurring past green fields and amber skies, to see whether we or it, would be the first to find ourselves home.
I had tied my grandmother’s scarf around my head. Not because I think that I am Audrey, or Katherine, Hepburn, but because of the wind. And also because I am growing my hair out, and it was whipping around, a million stringy soldiers, warring against my vision. For weeks I had been thinking about my grandmother. Just, you know, missing her. Feeling the void of her absence, aching that I can no longer share my life with her.
I had brought that scarf out of town with me, because it had been hers, and so felt like she was with me. It was a remnant of her fashionable life in Upper Manhattan. Part of what I had inherited when her mind and body were overcome by cancer and dementia, two and a half years ago. A slew of designer scarves, all ready to wrap around me, though I can no longer wrap my arms around her.
Somehow, the wind untied the bow that I had secured at the base of my head. And suddenly, as if on a movie, the scarf freed itself, and flew out the passenger side window. I reached out to grab it, and missed. Then watched in surprise from the rearview mirrors as it hovered, completely unfurled, in mid air, swaying like a giant ribbon, above the car behind me.
In that moment, I felt her loss profoundly. But also, something strange. I felt sad, but more peaceful, driving on. My mind replaying how the scarf danced, caught up in the wind of the traveler’s speed. I thought of how the wind had undone what I had so carefully constructed, how it had taken something that so mattered to me. But also how it had held it, suspended and safe, the last time I saw it. And I said, aloud, “Oh, hi, Grandma.”
I’ll tell you now, just as I told my daughter, I am okay. Whenever life doesn’t turn out like I planned, something else falls into place. Even when things go away, they have a way of rising back up again. And I have what matters, my children, our family, and my friends. All of my needs are met. We live in abundance, my children and I. I still have more scarves, but maybe I needed a reminder to let things go, and dance again.