Today was a mellow day. I heard the front door slam when Adrienne went to pick up Stella. I figured 1:30 was a fine time to get up. Brushed my teeth, took some Morphine, then went down to procure an icy cold coke, (really 5 or so icy cold cokes). I got settled in my chair with the coke, some chew, and my laptop.
Tears were rolling down my cheeks as I read all the new comments and messages from friends and family. Not sad tears, instead, very joyful thoughts of gratitude and humility. But this post is not about that again. This post is about my 9 year-old daughter, Stella.
Adrienne and Stella rolled up in the 65 Chevy truck. Quickly Adrienne disappeared upstairs. After the years we have spent together, I know that when Adrienne vanishes like that, she is not wanting me to follow with, “Have I done something wrong? What can I do for you? Thank you for everything. And on and on. She needs me to leave her alone; maybe check in just so she knows I am thinking about her. Today was one of those days. Adrienne is under as much as, probably more, stress than I am.
Now, Stella and I don’t always get along. And mostly that is me. I hate to even admit it. It’s hard to explain. I think some of her mannerisms remind me of girls I didn’t care for. Maybe it’s that even though she has Quinn and Mac, she was an only child for quite a while. I’ve been working at remembering that Stella is not blank or blank, (no I won’t name names), she is Stella. And if you have ever met Stella, you know that about her.
So I’ve been working on it. When Adrienne went upstairs, I decided I would hang out with Stella. She ate a snack. She talked about school. We talked a lot about how boys could be dumb, and in not dumb at math. Stella told me that she thought it was cool that I was a girl when I was young so she could talk to me about this stuff. I also explained to her that even though I was a girl then, I still watched all the boys and decided how I would be a better boy then they were. Again, no names.
The only time her big blue eyes, (inherited from her beautiful mother), glistened with tears is when we talked a little about cancer. She described to me her scariest daydream: that she would be dropped off in the morning, and then she would learn about my death at school. Would kids who were normally mean to her be nice to her? She hoped so. That almost brought tears to my eyes.
I looked in those blue eyes and told her the truth; she would never learn of my death at the bottom of the hill after school with someone other than her mom picking her up. I explained to her the stages of dying and we’ll be able to watch the signs and know when I have even just a few hours left. I need my kids to know that as well.
Towards the middle of our conversation, I called her closer to my chair. I held her hand and looked her in the eye and told her, I want you to know how much I really love you.” She smiled and said it back.
Our talk turned the Super Bowl, music, and she showed me a great video of Pharrell Williams singing, “Happy.” Check it out if you don’t have pre-teens.
Adrienne got up. I went to the tub to write this all down in my head. It was a very productive day.