Over the weekend Julia and I were playing with her doctor kit. A well worn green bag filled with a plastic thermometer that registers “frowny face” or “happy face” instantly pronouncing someone as sick or well; a plastic Band-Aid to fix any scratch or scrape and of course a rubber stethoscope with a foam circle to place upon your chest to hear your beating heart. Julia one day hopes to be a doctor to mommies, babies and “nice animals” which I believe means no snakes! 🙂 But she was playing kind doctor to my ill patient and gently placed the stethoscope on my chest to “listen” to my heart. She affected a look of surprise and shock, mouth forming an “oh” as I started to speak and she said in a hushed voice, “Shh, shh…I think I can hear Daddy talking in your heart” And my heart skipped a beat, maybe three, because I thought for a second that maybe she did. Maybe through the plastic Fisher Price stethoscope Wesley’s voice could be heard to her. And what would he say? Probably “Hi Little Spiffy!” one of his many funny nicknames for our funny little girl.
Recently Julia has started asking if we can save things for Daddy. A coconut doughnut, a book he might like to read, a picture she colored of our house. She wants to keep these physical things to give Daddy when we get to Heaven. Like an earthly scrapbook of our time at mortal “summer camp” to give him when we are reunited in the celestial realm of Heaven. I think it is to show him that as we pray he will not forget us, we are not forgetting him either. I try to remember him in the blissful days; the happy breakfasts at Palace Bakery, bleary eyed from sleep deprivation as a new young family in Atlanta, late nights staying up playing cards or just talking about what we dreamed about for our lives, the exactly look on his nervous face as he stammered, “Will You Marry Me?” in our dingy apartment as we decorated the Christmas tree in 2002, the ring dangling from an ornament hook. I cling to those memories when others, specifically the morning of March 30, start to creep in and I’m once again scared and confused.
I worry that having Wesley so present in our home confuses Julia. If you walked in our house his footprint and presence is everywhere. His clothing is in the closets and dresser drawers, his briefcase is on the bench by the door where he left it every day, in many ways he is still here. I have made some changes with a new light fixture in the dining room and foyer and other small details but I find peace in feeling that Wesley and specifically his things surround us. It lends itself to talking about him to see his things around us. He worked hard, We worked hard to have the life we were living and I cherish his crisp Brooks Brothers shirts with the collar and cuffs starting to fray, the Happy Everything plate he bought me for what would be the last Mother’s Day spent together, the brown leather saddle shoes he tied onto his feet every day.
I have his shaving cream, the last can he bought on the bathroom counter. I relish the sweet smell that filled the bathroom each morning as Wesley shaved his face, a well honed routine that I could almost replicate by memory from watching the razor glide across his face. The way he puffed his upper lip to avoid cutting it. Maybe every man does it that way, but I did not watch every man shave; I watched Wesley. When the shaving cream is gone, I can buy another but it will not be his. Wesley’s hand will not have touched it, his thumb gently pressing the button as shaving creme fills his strong and comforting hand. It will remind me, but not bear the same meaning, I fear. All these comforting things and thoughts are precious because they are a reminder of our life that sometimes feels eons ago.
As Julia quiets me, her finger to my lips to hear Daddy speaking in my heart, I too strain to silence my mind and listen. I’m seeking Wesley’s wise council, his sure and steady hand on my heart and yearning to hear the quietest of whispers.