Because I’m a writer, I can sift through details to make the story end however I like. Therefore, I made my previous post, “A Toad, A Turkey, and a Ton of Sandstone” sound delightful.
I skipped over the middle.
It didn’t show me in the best possible light, a dark place not suitable for my close up. Still, I’ve found a piece of myself stuck there, and today, as I waited for my daughter at her dentist’s appointment, I unlocked my obsessive grip on two flat rocks.
Their story began in Illinois when Cliff and I received the news from Chinese Children Adoption International that we’d been matched with a baby girl.
My nesting fever spiked.
Because the grass seed and flowers were already sprouting and blooming, I decided we needed a path from the patio to the gate. Cliff bought sand and rocks and dug. My mother and I tackled the geometry.
Maggie was three years old when we moved from that house and had traipsed up and down that walkway countless times to stand with the dog by the gate or to water the flowers with her sprinkling can or to pull her dolls in the wagon.
As the moving van pulled away, I pried two stones loose and placed them in the trunk of our car.
So in North Carolina, a landscaper set another path in place for her and incorporated these two stones. When we moved to Minnesota, they moved, too. And they came to Ohio. Of course.
Last summer she set them beside some heavy rocks unearthed in our garden.
Before Jay arrived to create the walkway, I put both precious rocks on the porch steps for safe keeping. Random rocks were visible beneath the porch, so Jay and his son pulled them out, thinking some might be usable for the project.
That night I discovered the steps were empty. They’d hauled all the rocks away. He’d forgotten to tell his son not to touch those two specific rocks.
I didn’t just sob. I wailed.
Cliff called Jay. They’d dumped the unusable rocks in a ditch behind his parents’ property. The next morning they arrived with a large triangular rock that was clean, unlike the ones from under the porch. A devoted parent himself, he asked about the one still missing.
I teared up. “It was gray and shaped like a pork chop.” Grieving, I rushed inside and sent Cliff out to talk.
In short order, they returned with it. Jay remembered a pork-chop shape that they’d cast aside.
Why all the fuss? I wondered, too, until today.
Sitting at the dentist’s, I realized Maggie had just reached twenty-one, an age bestowing adulthood in our culture. A milestone. A benchmark. A turning point.
For me, those two rocks had been a buffer against the inevitable truth: children grow up. They had been my souvenirs of her little feet padding up and down her childhood. Those two rocks held her still in my heart, although my eyes could clearly see her aging. And the recent image of her blowing out the candles, a red and a white 2 and 1, were smoky whispers of a corner turned.
Not that she no longer needs me, but she no longer needs me in that way. Her life is her own series of stepping stones that she’ll lay herself. Without me.
It will have to be enough to know I helped her with the first ones.