As I've been going through all of my belongings and deciding which few necessities and some precious memorabilia will come with us to Belize, one of the hardest things to let go of are my many, many, many photos that are little 'frozen-in-time' moments of my life.
I have so many memories in the form of photos from the years before cell phone cameras existed and "selfies" became a daily activity upon which people mark special moments. I would hypothesize that those "old" days represent happier, simpler times for so many of us. The memories triggered by my photos contribute to the difficulty of letting them go, so I have a large box that even my gypsy soul has carried from city to city and state to state with all of my moves. I know there is technology to scan and digitize everything, but it doesn't really solve the problem. It just burdens some weird Cloud that can apparently hold all of the world's data and, more importantly, it still burdens our children that will inherit them (Can you inherit a piece of the Cloud?).
So, I sat down with my photos for the last time to see which ones would make the Final Cut. As I was going through them, I came across this picture of my Dani and me. It is from our last vacation before her Dad and I split. That vacation in St. Kitts/Nevis was the worst vacation we ever had as a family. Our luggage was lost for a day or so, I was sick and lost my voice, and blah, blah, blah. In retrospect that vacation held all the signs of what was to come, just like a storm cloud warns us of its impending actions.
While the picture may look like it was capturing a precious mother/daughter moment, I can tell you that was not at all the case, at least on my side of that pier. It was our last day of that vacation, and knowing myself, I can tell you that the only reason I was holding her hand was so she wouldn't fall off the pier and do anything to jeopardize our getting home after a shitty trip.
Seeing that picture was a slap-in-the-face reminder that as I was struggling in the last years of my marriage and the first years of my new life as a single Mom in Manhattan, there wasn't much left of me to give to my daughter.
When Dani was old enough to not NEED to hold my hand walking around in NYC, she always still wanted to. Her little hand would always reach up to grab mine. And, often I would say, "It's too hot to hold your hand!" and I would drop her hand. I know it's because I was overwhelmed by everything in my life, including her. I just wanted SPACE. I didn't need a physical reminder of how I was a prisoner in my own life. Her little hand was akin to a handcuff to me.
This photo conjured up all these not-so-great Mom memories. I have been sitting here racking my brain trying to remember the last time her hand reached up to hold mine, and I can't. And I don't know if she ever will again and that breaks my heart into pieces. The years I lost not being present for her is my huge loss to bear and something I have to live with for the rest of my life.
We obviously can't go back in time, however, I try not to have life regrets. I've learned to see them as critical learning experiences that we can only use moving forward. This is one of the biggest reasons for our move to Belize and our world travels that will follow. I know in Belize, there will be far less desire for screen time, unless it's on our own joint ventures and adventures! I feel so fortunate and grateful to have this opportunity to make things right, even though I doubt she would think anything isn't right. We are soulmates. At some Universal level, she picked me to be her Mom because I have a lot to learn about life and in return, I can teach her what I have and am learning, sometimes painfully along the way.
I believe I have a few years while she still has a few toes into "my mom is my hero" phase. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be so lucky as to have one more opportunity where she reaches up to hold my hand. If she does, with my crying eyes...I just might not let go <3 <3 <3