Nine short months ago Kyla and I were taking down the Christmas tree together. It had only been about two weeks since they moved in and back then she easily volunteered for “projects” with me.
We were about half way through boxing up all of the ornaments when she came to a K shaped ornament with her name on it (my sister’s idea—because she’s good like that). She held it up and I smiled at her. Foster kids who live in group settings tend to want to hoard things. I thought for sure she was going to ask me if she could keep it in her room.
WRONG. “If I’m not here next Christmas will you hang this on the tree for me?” She asked. I remember trying to reassure her that she would still be here. “You’ll hang it up yourself, just wait and see”. I could sense she didn’t believe me. Overwhelmed and a bit saddened I wondered how or if I’d ever be able to undo all of the damage. Would they ever really feel stable, secure or at home with us…
Fast forward nine months and we’re cooking together in the kitchen. Dressed in grandma’s homemade aprons-we fried taco shells, diced avocados, and dished about our day.
Kyla made a comment about the funky pattern on her apron. I told her that the aprons used to belong to my grandma. Still trying to figure out her new family tree she guessed all of the new grandmas/great grandmas in her life. I explained that these aprons were made by mom’s mom. She passed away about 13 years ago.
And I let her know how special the aprons are to me and that they are one of my favorite possessions. Every time I slip one over my head and tie the strings around my waist I am reminded of my grandma. And each time I slip one over her head and tie the strings around her waist I can’t help but smile to myself.
She smiled. And then she went for it…
“When you die can I have your aprons”?
I have to admit, I was a little shocked. I mean no one has ever asked me that question before. No one has ever called dibs on my belongings. But surely, if my girl believes she will be around to inherit my belongings she must believe that she will be placing her K shaped ornament on the Christmas tree this year.
“Yes, of course”, I said. “Take the blue and green one for sure. It has pockets, the best pattern and it inspired the color scheme for our kitchen”.
And the then the gates opened and sister soul was calling dibs on everything she could see.
She got to my collection of cookbooks and I pulled my favorite one out. It’s the Betty Crocker’s Bridal edition given to me by in-laws as a wedding gift. We pull it out weekly to make banana bread. It’s the over used one with stained and crinkled edges.
On the inside cover it reads: Presented to Tammy Mauldin Gerber (what every new bride wants to see, her name with his last name behind it) in celebration of their marriage on July 22, 2005.
The last part is really important. Every July Jason and I pull it off the shelf and double check the inside cover for the date. We can never remember our actual anniversary date. We know it’s somewhere between the third and fourth week but the date always seems to escape us.
What I do remember is that three weeks before my wedding day my soldier returned home from the war. I remember how handsomely rugged he looked in his desert BDU’s. I remember looking into his blue eyes and thanking God with everything I had for his safe return. And most of all, I remember kissing him. Oh, that kiss. I waited the longest year for that kiss. There’s something so incredibly wondrous about kissing a soldier who is fresh from the war.
And although it is a little embarrassing to admit that I don’t remember my own wedding anniversary-- there is something special about pulling the cookbook off the shelf and reliving that kiss each year.
And I do want her to have the aprons and cookbook but even more… I want her to have her own magical moments and sweet memories.
Later that night I sent a quick thank you out to the universe and drifted off to sleep with a very full heart.