A small part of me just died.
I have been through death, betrayal, divorce, drug addiction, and breakups that have left me in the fetal position.
I have seen the events of 9/11 and Haiti and Katrina happen in my life, the destruction, pain, and struggle of others much worse off than me. I have cried tears of anger and compassion over these people I have never met, but are a part of me, because at the end of the day, we are all more alike than different.
I even cry for people on Oprah, sobbing into toilet paper, yelling at the TV, “You must forgive yourself!” or “How could you do that to your own child?” or “You can do it, one day at a time!”
Sometimes it takes a whole hour to forgive the woman who knew her husband was wearing her underwear but didn’t understand how he could be gay fifteen years later.
Really? If I saw my thong on a man’s ass it would be a total of ten minutes before all his shit was out of the house.
Perhaps I am just being judgmental.
The man who killed his nephew accidentally in the driveway, the woman rehabilitated after a horrible crash resulting in half her face missing, third-degree burns on her body, getting up and taking care of her four children, thankful to be alive.
That one made me feel a little guilty, actually, seeing as I had fed the girls Pop Tarts, and had shushed them because Oprah was on.
Hasn’t everyone seen the man with cancer giving his children his last lecture on how to live life?
I cried like someone had just killed my dog, my girls looking at me strangely, Lola slowly backing away when I asked her to come hug me, knowing I was probably going to do my weird mom thing, cry and hold her, asking her if she knew I loved her.
It is part of the human experience. Pain teaches us compassion.
And yet, no one has prepared me for kindergarten camp.
It is the step before kindergarten, a week before, but still … she said her tummy was nervous, that she didn’t know if anyone would play with her, she asked if she could wear her pink lip gloss to make her extra sparkly.
Lip gloss is her good-luck charm. She collects them and because we live in such a crazy world, she can actually put on Lucky Charms lip gloss to go with the cereal. Seriously.
She has all the cereal glosses, the shiny and sparkly, the ones that taste like flavors of the rainbow, and she spreads them across the floor, picking through them, and today, she studied each one of them, like one had a magic kindergarten-camp ingredient.
Kat and I walked her up the school pavement, her holding both of our hands, me praying for her in the car, and I smiled as she interrupted the prayer, being sneaky, whispering, “HEY KAT!”
Kat shushed her.
She, for Lola, will be that annoying sibling who believes in prayer, loves Martin Luther King so much he has a dinner mat at our table, and a birthday, and is line leader, and proudly announces that her teacher named her the role model of first grade.
As we walked her in, all of the sudden her little body stopped, her face crumpled and she let out an “Oh no! Oh no!” She was on the verge of bursting into tears. I panicked.
“What?” What? Baby, look at me.” I was calm, like every mother-actress.
“I forgot my book bag!” she whimpered, tears filling, about to fall.
It took thirty seconds for me to convince her she didn’t need it till kindergarten, that this was camp. I pointed out all the children walking in without book bags, holding their mommy’s hands.
“Kat said for me to bring it.” Whatever Kat says, is fine print on Lola’s heart.
I looked at Kat, wanting to choke her.
When we got to the entrance to sign her in, Lola put her hands on Kat’s shoulders, telling her that when we picked her up, she was going to hug and kiss Kat all over, and Kat told her she was the prettiest girl in the whole camp, and that her teacher was going to just die over her red hair.
That made me want to lie in the grass and sob; a moment I wish to freeze like a snapshot in time, worth every sleepless night, high fever, and black circle underneath my eyes.
Of course, I know I am biased, but am aware that with all her faults, stealing to be one of the few, Lola is the brightest light, her spirit arriving before she does, bigger than the sky, and it reminds me of this particular line in the song, I don’t shine if you don’t shine.
“Hi, my name is LOLA!” she yells to the lady from the back of the line, all the moms turning to laugh.
She skips, not walks from this point, and Kat says to me in the car, aware I am quiet, “Mom, she is not going to miss you.”
I am sure she meant it with the purest of intention. I said, “Thanks, Kat,” with sarcasm, angry Oprah has not prepared me, nor has life, or all my experiences, for the day my baby leaves the nest, to give her light and joy, to walk a path that has nothing to do with me. It feels like I got left and freed at once, leaving me unsettled in the fact I will just have to wait and see if I have prepared her, if she will follow directions, not steal little girl’s bracelets, be quiet when the teacher is talking. More than that, I miss her already, and I want all the years back.
I want to relive her all over again, but instead, I will have a good cry, sit in the silence of my little voices missing, and go through my lip gloss, wondering which one will help me see her right of passage; that this is the way of life, and that I can’t hold her light to myself, even if I wanted to.
I don’t shine, if you don’t shine, Lola.
So go shine for me, and shine bright, because the world will love you and need you, and today I pick a gloss the color red, but of course, not even close to the color of your beautiful hair, a shade of red not even the perfect manufacturer could invent.
I will put all my dreams for you in it, like you did in your ring, holding it close to your heart, telling your daddy as if everyone knew to put dreams into objects.
I think Lola is right, because applying lip gloss with her dreams inside of it feels very different, quite sparkly, and absolutely extraordinary, and now I see why she spends so much time picking the right one out for each occasion.
I think it feels fabulous.
Oprah herself needs to try it some time.