There was a day, not so long ago. It was a warm, sunny day, full of expectation and hope. It felt like the start of something special.
She dressed that day not to impress, but to reflect her personality. First impressions count. She willfully chose a powder blue sundress, daisies embroidered on the bodice, tied in the back. It skimmed her knees. Her only adornment, a red friendship bracelet, stayed knotted around her little wrist. She tied her hair in her favorite half-up, half-down style, slung her stiff new backpack over her bony shoulders for the first time, and walked out the door.
They wore matching shoes at the time, clunky brown sandals with huge, thick-treaded soles perfect for running and climbing in the hot valley September weather. He wanted everything to be like her; he looked up to his big sister in every way imaginable. She was everything. Squirming, he allowed me to dress him, unusual for his 2-year-old sense of style. Generally, he preferred the least amount of clothing possible. Anything with a dog on it would do, so we slipped the soft red long-sleeve T-shirt over his rather large head, tugged elastic shorts around his waist and Velcroed his sandals tight enough to chase after sister. I inhaled his soft, golden brown hair as he dashed out the front door.
There was a day, not so long ago, but 4,000 days after that first day. It was a warm, sunny day, full of expectation and hope. It felt like the end of something special, and the start of something unknown.
She dressed alone in her room that day, Pandora softly playing from her phone. I think she did her hair first; minutes clicked by as she wound her long, golden brown strands around the hot iron. Ringlets fell in place, not quite half-up, half-down. She slipped her favorite sundress over her strong, muscular shoulders—it skimmed her knees—and clasped her sterling silver “L” around her neck. I think there was a bit of black mascara highlighting her bright blue eyes. Leather and yarn bracelets from friends around the world dangled from her little wrist. Her brown leather flip-flops softly slapped the wood floors as she grabbed her backpack and ran for the door.
“Wait,” I shouted. This is really happening.
He stumbled out the door behind her, his curly, golden brown hair damp under his Detroit Tigers hat. Dark blue POC T-shirt and black athletic shorts covered his long, lanky body as if an afterthought or whatever was clean. He was barefoot. His brown eyes sparkled as he grabbed her hand. He looks down at her now, I thought. When did he get so huge? Her arm tilted up as she hugged him. They smiled. “Hurry up,” she moaned. “My ride will be here any second.” I snapped as quickly as I could through the tears. This is really happening. This moment, this strange and simultaneous replay and fast-forward of time, is really happening.
And just like that, she was gone.