I can’t play hopscotch

This week I’ve connected to a dear friend, I haven’t known in two and a half decades. And with this re-connection I find myself addicted to a Penseive-like journey that has revealed immeasurable emotions in addition to an opportunity to become reacquainted with my healthy young self. With remember-whens and photos of me that I’ve never seen, I find myself immersed, unable to look away. This need has taken on addictive qualities that are making it difficult for me to get back to 2009.

In the midst of this journey, I went outside to play with Madeline. With  joy easily found in this early spring day, we combed through the list of things she’d likes to do- those special things that she hasn’t done during the cold winter months. And while her usual outdoor playmate worked diligently inside, we searched for what I can do instead. (tag- no, obstacle course- no, jump-rope competition-no, hula hoop-no.) And though I was able to talk her into drawing on the drive-way with last year’s nubby chalk, it clearly wasn’t on the top of her list.

We held our noses because a skunk sprayed our car last night, and I tried to engage her with a drawing of the culprit, though it came out looking like a turtle. (nubby is an understatement-and you may not have noticed but a skunk has some pretty fine features)

“I know mommy, let’s draw hopscotch and we can play that together!” “Ok” I said, just assuming I could. It’s like a language one never forgets, right? And while she was bending and turning in ways that would evoke dizziness in me, I stood by and serenaded her.

What a day this has been, What a rare mood I’m in…why its almost like being in love

“Mommy, I don’t like love songs, sing something else.”

“Okay,” I said, “how’s this… I’m here, to remind you of the mess you left when you went away.. (an inside joke that only I could appreciate)

“No.” she said blankly in her cute sarcastic way (she is definitely my daughter!)

So I launched into the songs I sang to her as a baby, most notably Madeline Beatrice Adams-Gurowitz sung to the tune of John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt. And we laughed as she finished the hop-scotch board.

With the joy that is reserved for single children, she went first, and second, and third. ☺ Then it was my turn. I grabbed the stone with optimistic confidence and started on a task that was at one time as natural as breathing. And though it was clear with my first hop,  I pushed on. As I jumped, I edited the film in my mind, cutting between my yearly neurological exam and each hop. A visualization that is so strong, I will remember it as if the scene played out in exactly that way.

When I was done, I sat with the realization that this simple little game is exactly what I can’t do. So I watched her for the rest of the time… counting and clapping. And while I’m sure she enjoyed the attention just the same, I withdrew to that faraway place that has consumed my last 9 days and that picture…. lying on my side, with head in hand and the classic smile that lives with me today. It’s no wonder that I’m stuck in those early years with my dearest friend from a healthier time; a me that feels simultaneously so far away and so close. I don’t want to come back. Yet I know that if I don’t find a way to absorb this feeling and make it my own, in my current day… I won’t be able to laugh with Madeline on the driveway singing songs that are mine (Alanis) and her’s (…her name is mine name too).

7 thoughts on “I can’t play hopscotch

  1. Connie Nichols says:

    Amy, so beautifully expressed….poignant, realistic, and yes–sad. Throughout our history with this disease, it seems the grieving comes back time and again. The memories of your past self had been fairly well buried, I suspect, as part of the coping mechanism we all come up with. Those photos brought it all back, only to have those memories reinforced by your play time with Madeline.

    You are strong and will get past this,but I believe it is healthy to allow yourself this grieving time all over again. Madeline does not care what you can’t do, what matters is that you make an effort to do what you CAN do, and love her no matter what.

    You are amazing. Connie

  2. Mitch says:

    Your writing is truly back to form. Wonderful post Amy!

  3. Sonya says:

    Beautiful writing. Oh Amy. find your way back! And make the present days count.

  4. aglol says:

    An aside: Last night with dramatically increased dizziness, I said to Madeline “Is it a bummer having a mom that can’t do so much” and her response gave me pause (as always). She said “Mom, That’s mean! Don’t talk so mean to yourself!”
    I’m glad we found a way to teach her what we haven’t learned ourselves. 🙂

  5. Leslie Gurowitz harris says:

    So much to think about, so much to feel … to hard to write in a comment. Loved this.

  6. Mark Miller says:

    Goes without saying but focus on the things you can do. Sounds like you still make your daughter happy – – and with ease. Great post Amy! Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve gotta start doing this for myself (and more so for my family). I need to start providing better inside views of me like this.

    • aglol says:

      Thanks for your comments Mark. I can’t impress upon you enough how powerful this blog experience is in my coping and healing. I just re-wrote my “About this Blog” page to that effect. C’mon in … the water’s fine. I’m ready to subscribe!

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