Every life is filled with moments.
Mostly, these moments are ordinary. Fill the dishwasher. Discover that you drank the last of the milk before noticing that the recipe that needs to go in the oven right now requires a third of a cup. Scrambling to find someone to bring to the holiday party for work so that no one gives you those pitying, “she’s always alone”, looks yet again. Empty the dishwasher. Grab a bowl of dry cereal to eat in front of the television, rather than venture out to the Indian take out place.
Some moments start out as just part of the daily grind, but change your life forever. I remember the exact moment with crystal clarity. The moment it all began – again.
Slamming the door behind me as I entered the dark hall of my townhouse, I juggled an armload of mail and a backpack filled with files from the lab I needed to review tonight.
“Hi, honey, I’m home!” I shouted into the dimly lit kitchen, and chuckled. My only response came in the form of the glint from a pair of eyes on top of a bookshelf and a miffed little, “mrrrow”. Slipping my backpack off my shoulder and tossing my keys into the bowl by the door, I used my elbow to flip on the lights.
“Bill… bill… junk mail, bill.” I sighed and rubbed the back of my neck. I needed that promotion at work now, more than ever. So much for ignoring those files and plopping down in front of the television tonight.
One envelope slipped out of the pile and fluttered to the ground. Oddly enough, my address was handwritten in a lovely, flowing script. Intrigued, I snatched it up and carefully ripped it open. Inside the envelope were a childish drawing, a faded photograph, and a brief note.
It has been years since we spoke – years since you were like a second daughter to me.
I am finally moving on with my life and leaving the house where you and Cassie so
often played. I came across these pictures, and the good memories came flooding back.
Please, if you can, come visit me one last time. I have some things I know Cass would want
you to have.
The drawing was a simple one, and I remembered it well. Cassie had loved to doodle, and insisted on hanging it in her room well into high school. Even the possibility of having a boyfriend see it on the wall hadn’t convinced her to take it down. Seeing it brought it all back, and I was six again.
“Meghan!” Cassie whispered my name and then giggled softly. “Don’t move. Don’t … even… breathe.”
I sat motionless under the weeping willow in her backyard. I felt the tickling touch of the leaves on the back of my neck, but I knew better than to ignore her demands. We might be best friends, but her temper was quick to flare and I’d had my feelings hurt too many times to defy her when she was in this mood.
Lying on her belly just a few feet away, with her sketch pad shielded from my view, Cassie chewed on one of her new pencils. Yellow, bright like the sunshine, the color she insisted on using for my hair. Even at six, though, I knew my hair was mousey brown. Mousey brown, and always tangled.
“There, you can move now.” I started to unfold from the ground and leaned toward her to get a peek at the drawing. “Not yet, Megs! I still need to draw me, you know.” Thoughtfully, she selected just the right shade of red from her pencil set, and scribbled swiftly on the page.
Yep, I knew what that meant. That shade of deep red delighted her, because it was the exact right color to draw her hair in the sunlight. She said it just like that, too, every time. I stretched out under the willow tree, staring up at the small bits of sky I could see through the leaves, and pushed my fingertips into the soft dirt.
“Now, Megs! Come and see!” Cassie was breathless, panting slightly with exhilaration
Swiftly I darted to her side, eager to see what had her so excited. My jaw dropped open, just like in the cartoons, and I whispered.
“What…. Cass…. What is that?”