It’s been there for two years, almost two years anyway. It feels like a lifetime and though I don’t know if anyone else ever noticed–for me–it was my sweet, and silent, tiny little piece of armor. Strong, and still soft like when someone grabs hold of you, gives you a hug and whispers strength in your ear because they know you’ll never admit you need it. That piece of heart shaped paper with four little names on it was just like that.
It seems barely a breath has passed, though in fact two years have gone by, my life and everything in it felt fragile then. My rational, grown-up part of my mind knew the life it wanted, but my heart was fragile, hurting and full of doubts. The hardest year in recent memory was coming to a close, no resolutions and no promise of improvement. Emotionally I was adrift, clinging to vague hopes and lost dreams, I clung to the fact that despite feeling like I might die, no one had…actually died…
Days would slip by when I could not eat, I would force myself to drink water, cringing at the thought of food. I withered, physically, emotionally, spiritually…I felt like I was dying. I was in hiding, hoping that all of the turmoil would melt away but not at the expense of going back to the past.
Then one day–admittedly in a haze of emotions a little tiny hand, no longer the chubby fist of a toddler and not quite the dexterous hand of a big kid–reached from the backseat and tapped me, handing off this tiny scrap of love.
Imperfect and cut with safety scissors, a heart, on it the words; mama, papa, Apollo, Orion. Scrawled with his tiny hand, in imperfect penmanship, made in stolen moments after a class project. Mama at the top of the list. It really was up to me…I am not a sentimentalist.
Not by any stretch of the imagination. Nothing feels better, for me, than letting go. Lucky for me, when I let go I rarely ever look back, that coupled with impatience for “junk memories” means I rarely remember anything long enough to regret getting rid of it.
I just held that scrap of red paper and wept before I could even start the car to pull out of the school parking lot. I knew, then and there, not just what I wanted but that I had strength enough to get there. A sense that if I could just hold on, the pieces of my puzzle would start fitting back together. I felt comforted.
God, I hate not being an open book, but no one could have or would have wanted to hear the crap I was sorting. Even if they did, would I ever come back from the judgments they would pass, the doubts they would have about me?
That little scrap of my heart said I was going to be okay. Patience…have I mentioned I have none? So it was that I faced, head on, a test I knew I was otherwise not equipped to make it through.
I offered accolades to Apollo telling him how much I loved his gift, I held it all the way home then tucked it into an empty compartment in the car, for months that’s where it lived. At the school pick-up I would pull it out sometimes when I was waiting. A guaranteed smile would wash over my face, even on the bad days.
In the spring I quietly brought my love scrap into the house and mounted it to the side of our stainless steel refrigerator. I’m sure someone noticed but all mom’s are required to keep various gestures of affection from our children. No one knew this was actually a direct answer to personal prayer, executed by my own.
Family, it means more to me than I can adequately put into words. If you know me at all, know my deepest held beliefs, know that my family is vast and extended and many are my dearest and favorite friends, especially my sisters and my husband, even my own mom, than you would not be at all surprised how much this paper screamed that life was going to be ok…eventually.
Last week, when I was cleaning, I took down my love scrap and recycled it to the paper gods. I don’t need it anymore, this picture is enough. So thankful for little hands and little scraps of armor.