Closer to Lily

November 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

(The following are two journal entries I combined, which I wrote after having a rough morning leaving Lily to go to work.)

Does Lily really notice at this age – when I’m gone, that is? Does she care who watches over her as long as the person is kind, feeds her and keeps her warm? Does she have a concept of time or the capacity to wonder the whereabouts of a particular person? Has she come to understand her own home? To suggest that a little baby doesn’t know the difference is both bitter and sweet when you have to leave her to go to work.

All I know is that I long for her – to have her with me – to take care of her daily needs – to nurture her, to be present – to look after her things, our home, our food – to work and earn money in ways that don’t sever me from her. My talents do not strive with me in my 8 to 5 job – I resist investing into it. Before, I’d pull myself up by the bootstraps and trudge on day after day but then I met Lily. I found something I loved to do – my whole heart leaps into her world – my cynicism fades, my pretenses fall away.

At work I feel wasted – soaked up – dried out – resentful. I feel every moment, one after the other, wasted. Time doesn’t escape me when I’m at the office – I count the seconds.

I have a children’s book on my desk at work – Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry. I love the illustrations. As I flip the cardstock pages I can hear the winding engine of the old truck, the splash of its wheels over the muddy, dirt road.

I can hear the fall leaves snap from the limb, all the neighing, quacking, clucking, and mooing of the autumn colored farm animals and feel the misty spray of rain on my face.

But more than these, the book makes me feel close to Lily – colors and illustrations and bulky plastic toys, soft stuffed animals that jungle, the animated joy in their big round eyes.

I looked up children’s art on the internet and scrolled through all the images that came up, all those wonderful, imaginative, perfectly imperfect pieces of art – I felt closer to Lily. I never paid much attention to those things before – they seemed to me germy and meaningless – but I’ve been touched by parental affection – it courses through me for Lily and now I love all the doughy eyes, the rhymes, the little jingles, the sight of baby stuff in our house, the smell of baby oil, the sound of her breath.

I look at the photos of her pinned up above my desk – her mug shot filling up the screen on my monitor. My heart pines for her – my baby, my sweet girl! My eyes trace the pleats on her khaki dress, the stitching across the fabric, the buttons, the embroidery, the ruffles around her sleeve and collar, her soft, chunky arms, the glow of light reflecting in her skin at the tip of her nose and at the center of her forehead and her chin, her dark hair and gray eyes – my baby.

Taken by Raquel Hubbard at Black Acre Preserve in Kentucky

Her cheeks are two blossoms, two plums, two love birds leaning into one another. Her eyes are like the stars I used to gaze into as a child – so fascinated at the prospect of something far more grand than I ever knew before.

3:02pm – Two more hours…I have my office door shut. I hear the muffling of phones ringing, supervisors conducting staff as one of the teens discharges from the program – doors opening and closing – I shut myself off. I am slow to do my work, like I’m sick and can hardly lift my arms. Then I look at the photo of Lily – I feel warm and pacified for the moment.

I answer my phone – it’s a salesman from State Farm who wants to come speak to our parents taking parenting classes about life insurance. I’m drawn again into her face, the daydream of my daughter. Someone knocks, hands me a referral on a teen boy – I respond to the sender – we are full – and there she is again, peaking out from behind this journal entry, her eyelashes fanned out like butterfly wings – an icon of a star on my desktop hangs from her fingertip.

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