Why do people drive into their garages and never say hi to their neighbors? Why were the streets so quiet? Where were the people? Everything was immaculate–yards groomed, flower beds perfect, no a hit of garbage on the streets.
It seemed strange to me, having come from a land filled with people, conversation, movement and cars, that people would live so alone.
Unfortunately, for most of us, that is what our life looks like. I’ve grown accustomed to moving in and out of my neighborhood with nary a comment to anyone for days at a time.
Yesterday Desta and I trekked up the street to a new friend’s home. Well, a new friend to us. While Desta enjoyed the company of 2 little 6 year old towheads, I sat and talked with their mom. It was so refreshing.
The conversation took many weaves and turns and at one point, we ended up talking about Kara Tippets; author of Mundane Faithfulness. Turns out, our neighbor’s husband is the creator of Kara’s blog.
I was struck with something this new friend told me. She said Kara had the privilege of saying good bye for a long time. One of the things she did was create memory boxes for each of her children. She put notes with each item–she was the memory keeper for these things and knowing her good bye was coming, she wanted to make sure the stories continued.
My first thought was this, “I need to do that.” I need to go through the things that have lived in boxes, some for 13 years now, and make decisions. Ask myself, “What is the story for this? Is it worth keeping and telling? If so, I need to write it down and make sure it’s told.”
Today I started. Pulled down a big box from Desta’s closet and took out the blanket she was wrapped in when I held her for the first time. I took out the beautifully embroidered Ethiopian cloth I carried her around Addis in those first days. Then I found the picture frame. The second photo we ever saw of our girl.
And I lost it ya’ll. I cried because this exercise is hard! Being the memory keeper means dredging up the good and the hard. It means letting the emotions of today stir the emotions of yesterday. To be honest and frank, the emotions of today are really challenging to admit.
Being Desta’s mom lately has been really hard. It has been filled with a lot of discouragement, guilt, anger. My role has seemed displaced and not important to our daughter. I’m created daily with a barrage of complaints, anger and strong dislike. We end the day, most of the time, with similar emotions.
As I looked at that picture, held those blankets and rocked in the chair I prayed in for 2 years, I am sad and so thankful that that neighbor down the street invited us over for a play date and shared her heart with me. I am so thankful that in the midst of this society where it is easy to be alone, to just do life solitary, that I made a choice yesterday to step outside my introverted zone and meet someone new.
I have hope that God will answer the prayers I had so many years ago for our sweet daughter. I have hope that one day Desta will realize how treasured and loved she is. Until then, I press on, leaning in and focusing on living one moment at a time.