Taking a break from remembering Leslie to talk a little bit about how we're doing...
Emma had a nice long weekend with friends...a sleepover, a birthday party, just hanging out. All different friends. She asked me about it.
"It feels weird that everyone wants to do stuff with me," she said, perhaps feeling strange accepting invitations that she worries came as a result of her mother's death.
"Em, these are your friends. They were your friends before too. It's natural for your friends to want to try to make you feel better, take your mind off things. These things are also kind of a wakeup call for people."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, sometimes in life you lose track of people. You go in different directions. You might not ever stop enjoying a person's company, but life gets in the way. Things get busy. You lose touch. A lot of times, these sorts of things wake people up to the fact that they miss you. And that they don't want to let time go by without spending time with you because every moment is precious. Don't think of this attention as 'pity', think of this as friends wanting you to know that they're there for you."
She mulled this over and seemed to accept it.
Last night she got home and I told her how I really hadn't gotten a chance to see her over the weekend. She said she was sorry and I told her not to apologize, that she needs a chance to be a kid and have fun and live her life. I told her I was just fine, but missed her. I asked her how she'd been, code for, were you sad while you were gone. She said she'd been fine.
She got ready for bed, and I busied myself cleaning or putting lunches together or something, and when I climbed the stairs to tuck her in (or the 13 year old equivalent...lie down, chat, kiss her goodnight and go) I found her crying on my bed.
"Awww, honey, what did it?"
"I was fine, and I came into your room to see if you were up here and I saw the bed, and mommy's side was still made, and unslept in, and it just made me think about her and how she's gone."
Ugh. We cried a little together and talked, and then she got up and went to bed and I followed her in. I eased back onto her bed and we chatted just a bit more before I kissed her goodnight. Before I left her room I told her, "I love you always and forever."
"Always and forever," she echoed.
A week ago Emma and I were comforting each other and she said, "Dad, when I'm much older, like in my late twenties or even thirties..." (Here I interupted her with some protest about how much older I must be if late twenties is "much older")..."I want to get a tattoo in an infinity sign that says "Always and Forever".
"Why that," I asked.
"It's what mommy said to me every night when she put me to sleep...'I love you, Em, Always and Forever."
Cue the fucking waterworks.
"Oh yeah," I said, remembering, "She said something different to each of you. To Lily she would say, 'I love you no matter what.' and Lily would always reply, 'No matter what!'"
And I was sooo tempted right then and there to say, "You can get that tattooed tomorrow!" but settled instead for, "Em, when you're old enough for a tattoo, I'll go with you to get it."
Every night since she told me that I stand in her doorway before turning off the light on her fish tank and closing her door and tell her, "I love you always and forever."
And Em replies, "Always and forever."
If you read this blog and you know Emma or talk to Emma, please don't mention Always and Forever to her. Right now I think she's holding it near and dear to her heart. I'll ask her tonight if she's prefer that was something just her mom used. I feel a little guilty using it myself, like I'm somehow usurping her mom's catch phrase, but I think she likes it.
One day at a time.