As I greeted my daughter at school pickup she was all smiles. Glowing. She was proud of herself and all she’d done today, happy to be back with her friends and engaged in their current science project. She bounced toward me and I gave her umbrella to her. She opened it up and hand in hand we strolled a few blocks before something became terribly clear.
Her umbrella. Her rainbow stripe umbrella. Her beautiful rainbow stripe umbrella with the red handle that she has had since she was 3 1/2 was not long for this world.
As we were walking it closed up on her. Once. Twice… Three times. It was already bent out of shape and missing plastic tips, but it was hers and she loved it. She refused the offer to share mine, instead using her right hand to hold the umbrella open above her. The further we walked the greater her tears.
She started cycling quickly through the stages of grief:
Denial: “It’s just not working NOW! Tomorrow it won’t close like this! IT WILL BE FINE MAMA!”
Anger: “WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TODAY??? I LOVE MY UMBRELLA AND YOU’RE GOING TO GET RID OF IT! I WON’T LET YOU”
Bargaining: “Can we just keep it one more day? So I can look at it? Can you take the rainbow part off and put it on a new frame? Can we give it to a baby to play with? I just don’t want it to be gone!”
Depression: There’s no quote here. She cried so much she hyperventilated. I had her lie down in her room until she was feeling calmer. As soon as she could walk she went to the upstairs window overlooking the trash bin and whispered to the umbrella how much she loves it…. then she broke down and started crying again until I carried her into her room and tucked her into her bed.
Acceptance: I’m not really sure we’ve reached this stage. She seems to be done crying for now but it could just be the eye of the storm. Only time will tell.
I don’t know what it is that makes her cling to objects with such ferocity. I don’t know what makes her cling to a silly piece made of plastic, metal and weather proof fabric…
I have never been so object oriented… but I see what’s behind it and I know the path my girl is on. She feels every little high and low that comes her way as though her universe was irrevocably altered. It’s as though her heart takes chaos theory personally.
I know, because the flutter of a butterfly’s wings can send my heart soaring or tumbling into despair…