Last night, our son Richard sent one of those internet quote-fests: a long strand of clips and quotes culled from a television series, this one focused on the wise words of Coach, a character played by Kyle Chandler on Friday Night Lights.
I’m a fan. I began watching the series because my husband loves it and because I had recently married into a family of three men: my husband and two college-age boys. I figured I had a lot to learn and maybe Friday Night Lights would help me learn it – at least the football part.
So I’m scrolling through the folksy wisdom and come to this bit: “Every man at some point in his life is gonna lose a battle. He’s gonna fight, and he’s gonna lose. But what makes him a man is that, in the midst of that battle, he does not lose himself.”
Losing a child kind of feels a lot like losing yourself.
A lot of my time over the past 23 years was spent saying things like “Tuck the tag down,” asking “Did you brush your teeth?” and repeating, “Please don’t chew gum in public.” My identity and my purpose were very specific: to help Camila grow up into the kind of person who could walk into any room and do the handshake.
So many little things and big things to cover. So many things to model and do and say. So much to think about – and so many things to remember. It was, as everyone knows, a full-time job. And whether I knew it at the onset or not, it defined my primary role because it was the only job I have ever taken on that I never ever thought of quitting.
And now, even though I tell myself I will always be Camila’s mom, and I will be, there are so many parts of me that no longer have public expression. Those parts of my daily identity, what I came to think of as the best parts of me, are now repressed and in many ways feel like they’ve been rendered irrelevant.
I am learning the proper way to express my love to my dear young men – but I miss the puppy lavish love I could pour over my girl. She knew me, and she let me know her. And she shared – shared her interests, her inside jokes, and all of her friends. Hers was the world of theater and her orbit was wide, so much wider than my own more quiet life. That world feels closed to me now. I lost my backstage pass.
There are other losses, as everyone in the circle knows. Losses small and giant. But it’s the small things I seem to be thinking of today:
- I miss walking into Anthropologie just to see if I can recognize something she had shown me from her online wish list, something I could pick up to let her know I was thinking of her.
- I miss looking through racks at consignment and vintage stores, supposedly for me but always turning my eye towards a color or style she would like.
- I miss all the restaurants we shared: The Bulldog for a drink, Great Wall for Chinese, Myo for any flavor and every topping.
- I miss going to see any new romantic comedy together as soon as it came out or saving it for when we could see it together.
- I miss finding my clothes in her closet or sneaking something out of hers.
- I miss her popcorn and her eggs.
There are so many parts of her I miss and so many parts of myself I’ve lost.
Some days, I just can’t think of a way to find those things again.