This morning, I folded a black graduation gown into a small square, and tucked it into a gallon-size freezer bag, with a cap, a tassel and a bright orange sash. I squeezed that bag into an overflowing bin of my oldest child’s memories. A few weeks ago, we opened that Memory Box to pull a few things out for Senryu’s graduation party. Tiny dresses from her earliest days are tucked amid preschool art. Little poster paint hand prints, are pressed onto colored construction paper and covered with clear laminate, holding a moment in time, as I used to hold that hand in mine. Sweet baby “cowgirl” boots and little hair bows that make me catch my breath at how swiftly time passes, are hidden under a black and cream dotted dress that she wore when she was five as the flower girl at my best friend’s wedding. She was so shy then, as she took hesitant steps down an outdoor aisle, moving quietly as if she hoped no-one would notice her. In the intervening years, she has sung and acted on stage, with vibrancy and energy: a small girl with a big powerful voice that takes people by surprise when they first hear it. She has flown half-way across the world, away from me… away from everything that she has known… to experience life in another culture for an entire year.
A pink jumper from the first day of kindergarten… A black cap and gown from high school graduation... It surprises me how full of memories that bin in the basement has become in only 18 years. It amazes me how full of experiences that young woman has become in those same years. As I press down on the lid, which only catches at the edges and does not quite close, it occurs to me that soon this bin will migrate to a corner of my daughter’s own home… perhaps in some far corner of the world, as she has an adventurous spirit. And yet, though the physical souvenirs may not be here, I will have a memory box of my own that overflows; the tears and laughter, heartaches and triumphs, the drama and the songs, of my years as “Senryu’s Mumma” fill my heart to overflowing.