The box in the basement is beginning to overflow. Papers and colors and scribbles and pictures spill over the top of the box. I am trying to save it all.
The box contains almost every craft and project my girls have completed at daycare over the past several years. Yes, I want to save their creations and yes, it will be wonderful to have these mementos from their childhood. But when I look through that box, I feel a heaviness in my heart. What I really want to save is the memory – to remember forever how my girls existed – for a moment – before they grew a little bit older.
I do love the messy sheet of white paper covered in blue finger paint from the winter of 2011. It is documentation of Maddie’s color recognition and fine motor skills at 11 months of age. But, more than the paper, I want to remember Maddie – with her curls and diapered butt – Maddie, how she would toddle to the daycare door upon my arrival. “Ma ma ma ma ma ma”, she would yell. Maddie and how she learned her colors so quickly and smeared macaroni and cheese all over her face and loved Mickey Mouse and said “Uh oh!” every time something fell on the floor. My fondest memories of eleven-month-old Maddie. That’s what I wish to save, to put in a box and keep safe forever. That Maddie is no longer here, and in her place stands this four-year-old Maddie who is every bit as wonderful and smart and cute and charming as eleven-month-old Maddie. I just don’t want to forget. So, I keep stuffing more papers into the box in the basement.
Of course, it will be nice 15 years from now to still have the paper bag scarecrow puppet that Kate made. It is evidence of the early stages of her learning to color and her recognition of body parts. However, more than the scarecrow, what I want to hold on to forever is almost-2-years-old Kate. I don’t want to forget her obsessive love of all things pur-pur (purple) and her determination to do everything by herself and the way she is such a daddy’s girl and the look in her eyes when she watches Maddie and how she’s learning to talk and the way she smiles with her whole face and you just can’t help but feel her joy, too. I want to remember this Katie, how she exists right now in this moment of time and the love that fills my heart every time I look at her face. I don’t want to forget.
I’m filling the box in the basement with paper memories because I’m trying to save it all. Every memory. Every moment. Every part of them.