May 31, 2005 | From My Journal
Memory can fade.
Small moments, like a shared revelation during a chit-chat with Jared one morning before school or a sock-biting-foot-stomping-head-shaking Craig dance that made me laugh one afternoon can be foremost on my mind to share with my husband at the end of the day.
At night, when we are lazing with legs intertwined, pillows bunched just right and we’re blanketed with relaxation, we verbally uncurl the day’s ribbon of activity.
We’ll tell each other our highlight moments and chuckle, share concern or just say ‘hmmm’ over them. That day’s memory is fresh, bright, like a new copper penny but by tomorrow night, a day’s worth of dust will have accumulated. In a week, a month or a decade all the new memories will be piled on top of it and they’ll settle like sediment.
Each day has its routines. Even the way my husband and I drink our coffee is the same, day in and day out. With a home brew I add a Splenda-sweetened-and-flavored creamer and he uses the original amaretto kind with a few extra spoonfuls of sugar.
Its habit it seems like we’ve had forever. But when I sift through the memory pile, I remember flavored creamer has only been out a few years. What did we do before that? Plain sugar and milk I guess. This routine is as well-worn as an old, beloved leather shoe – I should remember when we made a variation, but I don’t.
It’s the same with my kids, we have our own daily patterns.
Every morning after Jared runs off to the bus stop, Craig and I sit down and eat breakfast – usually at eight thirty a.m. and then we’ll get dressed.
I love the cotton blue chameleon outfit Craig has with the matching camouflage shorts; it’s my favorite from this season’s clothes selection.
Before this set I loved his winter long-sleeved shirt that had a big wheel printed on the front and his tan pants. When Craig was born it was a fuzzy deep-blue velour sleeper that had a dragon and knight on it.
I can remember where each outfit was bought, that they were slightly too big when he first wore them and too short when he stopped. However, a couple of weeks ago, if Jared asked me ‘what was your favorite outfit for me when I was Craig’s age.’
I’d have to answer ‘I don’t know.’ It’s been so long, I can’t remember.
Forgotten then found
It was an afternoon filled with women’s voices and exclamations over newborn items. A day filled with a happy, celebratory buzz over my sister’s baby-to-be.
While she opened her ladybug red and pink packages my cousin, who lives a few hours south of us and has a son six months older than Craig, leaned over and said, “I have a box of clothes for you.”
Later that afternoon as my sister and I rummaged through the box, I was checking size tags – mentally sorting what could be worn now and what needed to be shelved for a few months – when she said, “This was Trent’s!”
She pulled out a green and yellow button down summer shirt. “Oh and here’s another one.”
That one was blue with beige fishes. I know I smiled; I remembered those now that she pointed it out. It seemed like a lifetime since her son was that little.
The third shirt we pulled out took out startled me.
It was a blue and white striped hooded short-sleeve shirt, size 18 months. Even though the tag said 18 months, I knew it was really bigger than that and would still fit Craig, who is now solidly fitting size two toddlers.
I knew it because it had been my favorite shirt of Jared’s when he was that age. When I saw it in the box, for a flash I saw Jared’s round belly pushing the front of it out and his dimpled elbows swinging as he walked to me in just a diaper and this shirt.
It was a second of a moment that probably seemed routine at the time and now felt like I’d found a long hunted for treasure.
It’s so rare these flashes of Jared during his babyhood.
Mostly I remember how his hair was brushed into a ‘baby hawk’ – it looks like a Mohawk but with baby hair – or how small he was sitting next to his dad – though at the time we thought he was so big– from pictures.
Sure I remember big events firsthand like when he fell on a park bench in the living room and needed stitches on his nose or that he loved Barney so much it was one of his first words – ‘Bahyee.’ But the smaller, more routine moments have been buried, waiting to be found – like this shirt.
In my family when our kids have outgrown their clothes, we send them down the line – though after twelve years I never expected to get anything that was Jared’s.
This shirt had a long journey, it went from Jared to my sister-in-laws son, then to my sister’s son and she in turn passed it along to our cousin, who then gave it to me for Craig.
After twelve years the shirt still looks good – shows how fast our little guys grow.
Eve Reiland (US)
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