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Text Messages and Summer Strawberries

July 19, 2010
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She texts me when she gets up in the morning.  Then the text messages roll in haphazardly as the hours of the day move along, but the morning texts have become a regular occurrence.  Not automatic enough to call a habit, or with enough history to call a ritual, but it’s the intent and the newness, the freshness, after all this time, that honestly remind me of summer fruit – sweet and refreshing.  In the past, I’ve gone months without hearing from her, worrying about her, wondering where she is, and who she is with.  Trusting her with her life decisions, because there isn’t anyone else.

She turned 18 last week.  A few days ago, really.  And her birthday card is late, but she must know by now that everything I send her in the mail arrives late.  Last birthday, I didn’t even have an address for her.  That summer I worried ceaselessly.  I’ve watched her grow over the past five years, and along the way I’ve tried to teach her “life things”.  She teaches me, also.  Love and strength and perseverance and forgiveness and protection and faith in people, even when there are too many reasons to the contrary. We keep our roles, mentor – mentee, but oh, do I learn from her.

Five years ago, I vehemently believed that she would be a part of my life on her 18th birthday.  But don’t we always believe that about the people we care about?  And yet, sometimes they slip away with the passage of time.  Or step away.  Or turn away.  And at times, with her, I thought, “Maybe this is it.  Maybe I lost her this time.  Or maybe she lost me.”  It’s hard to tell who does the losing when two people both cared at one time.  I’d tell her “Never.”  And I would believe it with every bone in my body.  Because she needed me to believe it, to say it.  And I needed to believe it, to say it.  I’d drive the doubt away, but it was there.  It existed.  It has to exist or there would not be certainty.  And I told her I was certain.  In some ways, I always was.

These morning texts come regularly now, from this girl young woman now across the country.  They give me hope.  For another five years of learning, and perspective, and love.  For both of us.  And they give me hope for other relationships in my life that need my conviction right now.  Hope that intent and newness will come after all this time and remind me of fresh summer strawberries.

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