She giggled as the sand worked its way up through her tiny toes. It made me wonder if I had experienced the same awe? If so, did daily life push everything aside so there was no longer room for such a memory? Somehow I felt this tiny little soul was going to open the flood gates to my heart and maybe even to my childhood memories.
I clicked the shutter on the camera and caught the moment. I was determined that Bella would remember life’s simple pleasures. I did not want her to become an emotionally hardened woman like I had been. I wanted her to live her life with an open heart and as a willing participant. My mind immediately raced to the beautifully adorned cardboard box that held all these photographs. I knew today would be the day. I would start Bella’s Heart Journal while my memories were still fresh.
“Mama, look!” Bella’s voice whipped me back to the present. This beautiful little girl looked to the sky and pointed, “It’s a barroon.” I chuckled as I saw the brightly colored balloon drift across the horizon over the breaking surf.
I closed my eyes and tried hard to remember anything new. Of course I had memories. A lot of them. Just nothing magical. No memories of wonderment. I wanted to believe I was as curious and as excited about life at that age as my daughter was. No matter how hard I tried, nothing.
“Let’s go, Bella darling. It’s time to pick up Daddy.”
“Yipppeeeeeee. Dadddy! I take him this treasure, Mommy.” I smiled as I watched her bend and pick up a tiny white seashell.
“Okay, my love. Daddy will love it!”
Don had always been the perfect husband. He provided for me in every way. He loved me and supported every career decision I made. As I was promoted up through the corporate ladder, he applauded my success. We were the perfect couple. Until the day he told me he wanted a family. Every fear I had come alive. I was angry with him for even suggesting this because we had talked it through so many times. This world we live in is no place to raise a child. What if something happened to us? Who in our families could we trust with a child? What about our jobs? I had not worked 12 years to become an Executive Vice President just to throw it all away. We had the perfect condo. We had white carpet in the living room with a beautifully upholstered couch. No place for a child. I think a little piece of him died the day I told him ‘Absolutely not. It’s my body.”
When I told Dr. Gwynn about my period and how I was experiencing perimenopause, he insisted on doing some tests. Mom had gone through menopause early and while I wasn’t ready for this transition, I would just have to adjust. I thought about Susan, the Vice President down the hall and I knew I would not allow myself to grow a moustache. I would wax every day if necessary.
I sat in the dark waiting for Don to come home. I knew it would be hard, but I knew he would agree with my decision. This was not the way we planned it. As he walked through the door he called out my name. “Molly?” Then his glance turned toward me. I must have been a sight. A 34-year-old woman, sitting among saturated Kleenex at a beautiful hand-made table from Bali. “Molly, my God. What’s wrong? Did someone die?”
He held me and rocked me in his arms well into the night. He held my hand and my heart while he told me over and over everything would be okay. I’m not sure what happened, but by the time the sun rose Friday morning, we had decided we would keep the baby.
As I loaded Bella and her treasures into the Volvo station wagon, I chuckled to myself. It wasn’t a red Ferrari and my flip-flops weren’t exactly corporate, but I was on vacation after all. I knew I had missed so much, but I had to work. These little mini-vacations were a God-send. As I pulled out of the parking lot, Bella let out a giggle-filled squeal. “Mommy, ice cream!” As I started to say the words, ‘no we can’t stop now’, I felt a wave of memories rush over me. Suddenly I was a little girl sitting in the back seat of an old panel station wagon. I could remember everything about the old ice cream truck and how the music faded away as Mom drove in the opposite direction. “Not now, Molly. I have to get home and get ready for work tomorrow.”
We were a few minutes late as I pulled the car into the parking lot. I saw Don sitting on the bench in front of the office. He was smiling as always. I knew Don would understand. He always did. He would support my decision no matter what changes we would have to make. He loved both his little girls.
Who needs a title anyway?