Sometimes at night, I dream of her, and she is a toddler once again. Her big brown eyes in her sweet little face look up at me as we walk down the street. She stops to pick up a pretty leaf, one among many, and places it in her brown paper bag. I can hear her laugh and listen to her voice as she sings a song. It has been a long road since then, and much has changed, but those memories and my dreams keep those moments alive for me.
When they first put her in my arms, I studied my baby’s face. I wanted to memorize every bit of her. I was in awe at the miracle that she was. I remember my sister telling me that I had so many wonderful moments ahead of me. And my sister was right. When my baby went to Kindergarten, I watched her leave me with such confidence and excitement. She stood then, at the brink of her life, and started her walk away from me. When she became a teenager, I was fortunate to still be included in her life. Not every mother gets to experience that. The birthday parties, the Disney sleepovers, the school trips, the tarot card readings, the adventures, the long discussions with her and her friends, all of these, memories along the road.
She left for college and our lives separated. New technologies allowed me to peek in on her life. I treasured every picture, every phone call, every text, and then our reunions during the breaks. She changed. I changed. But we met again and again along the road.
While college was within a day’s drive, graduate school was further. We decided to take the road trip across the states together. Along the way we listened to books on cd’s and talked for hours on end. In Virginia, we saw the magnificence of the Natural Bridge and the quirkiness of the Star Museum. In Tennessee, we stopped to see the reproduction of the Parthenon in Nashville and then went on a ghost tour in Franklin. We even stayed in The Heartbreak Hotel in Memphis and saw Elvis’ Graceland. In Mississippi, we visited friends and toured a petrified forest. At the journey’s end, I helped her set up her new home for her new life. And then I left.
But at the end of her first year, I also returned. We drove back home and along the way stopped to see the beauty of Savannah. We watched dolphins jump out of the water and bought old books in a quaint bookstore. We stopped at South of the Border, a place I had heard about since I was a little girl but had never seen. We visited family in Virginia Beach and then saw wild horses on the beaches of Chincoteague.
She wasn’t home for long, she spent the summer in the Amazon learning an indigenous language and then returned to her new life by way of a road trip with her father. She won’t be home this Thanksgiving, she will spend it with her new “family,” the friends she has made in New Orleans. And so it will continue, her life separate from mine, yet connected by the times we spend together along the road.
From the street outside of our house, to her travels to the ends of the Earth, I will continue to enjoy watching the journey of her life. She will go to places I will only dream about. Her road trip may have started with me, but it will continue beyond me. Even long after I am gone, I will always be there to watch over her and peek in on her adventures. She is my daughter. And I feel so lucky to have shared my road with me.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy