I didn't have patience to lay by Parley tonight, and I knew if I didn't, he'd be up 'till 11:00 or beyond playing in his room, keeping Hazel awake by making odd noises until she laughed, asking for drinks. So, I proposed a drive. I sent him to get two books and brush his teeth, then come and read before our drive. He obediently did so (amazing), and we were set to go. Hazel, in a whisper, asked if I was trying to put him to sleep (this clearly isn't the first time I've done this). I assured her I was and that it wasn't going to be fun, but she could come if she didn't talk to him.
She had another idea:
"What if, after you get Parley to sleep (whispered) you come home and read me two books, then a chapter in the Boxcar Children, and then we go for a ride."
"To put you to sleep?"
Hazel, hesitating, "...Yes."
I smile, knowing she has been beyond the "fall asleep in the car" stage for a long time.
She starts to breakdown a tiny bit--realizing the same thing, "Oh, I can't fall asleep in the car! But we could still go for a ride!"
"Sure we can." I say.
After all, I miss the me and Hazel days. A week or so before I had Parley, I broke down crying. I was thrilled to be having another child, and anxiously awaited his arrival every day. But with it went the days of only Hazel and me. And now, though I'd never change a thing, there still is a longing for those Hazel days.
So I put Parley to sleep (with many a close call of him waking up--to ruin my whole night with his wakefulness) and after reading our books, Hazel and I got in the car. I proposed we drive past our last two homes--the places she's lived in her short six year life. She loves to drive by them, she wants to talk about them and wants desperately to visit them again, and can't understand why we can't. So we drove the familiar road to the blue house (our houses are all named after their colors) , and as we rounded the road past the church, I could see people outside our home. Our old home. The red, front door and blinds were open--giving us a small glimpse into what used to be our everyday life.
Hazel also noticed and excitedly said, "The door is open! Let's stop!" I tried to explain to her that we weren't really welcome to come there all the time like we once were, and it would probably look strange if we drove past too slowly and too many times. But I promised, after we drove around the block a few times, we'd come by again.
We drove on, passing many old neighbors' homes, our church building and bishop's house, and Hazel's preschool. And true to our promise, I returned to our old street-- once so welcoming--but now driving on it, I felt a trespasser. I drove as slowly as I could without appearing too strange. We both looked out the window--the blinds on that little blue house still open, showing us our old family room and kitchen.
I rounded the corner again and asked Hazel if she could see what it looked like in the house. When she answered, I could tell she was crying. I asked her if it made her sad--and she tried to blink back her tears--I could see myself in those upturned eyes so vividly. She quickly said, "No," clearly embarrassed that I had caught her in her sadness. Memories flooded my mind--of times I too, denied my obvious tears. This was my girl.
I told her that I was sad to see the blue house. I told her that sometimes even when we're happy someplace else, we really miss where we used to be. We make memories everywhere we go, I said, and we have happy times together, and meet nice friends and people that are important in our lives. So, even though we like the red house, we can still be sad that we don't live at the blue house anymore too. She agreed.
And I thought about those neighbors and friends, people I am so glad I know, the bishop, who I worked closely with and the ward which taught me much and humbled me greatly. I thought about the trampoline at night in the summertime with jumping children in jammies, and dragonflies flying low and I too, cried.
And it felt like when I cried before Parley was born--not sad because I didn't want to be where I was, but sad that those "blue house" times were gone. Just like the Hazey and Mom times. And the "yellow house" times, and the Jayne and Jed times. I say prayers of gratitude every night that I am so happy here in my home. My red home. But, like Hazel, I wish I could hold on to all my "houses", entering all stages of life whenever I felt like visiting. Holding three-month-old babies, or hiking on my honeymoon, attending Kindergarten programs, playing with Woody and Buzz or visiting Jerusalem's Old City. Isn't there a red door out there to welcome me back again? And again and again?
Certainly all the doors in heaven must be red.