Monday, July 19, 2010

Snapshots of Fifteen

I found something this weekend while cleaning out a closet. It's the closet in my old bedroom at my parents house..the place I had all of yellowed Sweet Valley High books, cherished stuffed animals from childhood...dusty memories waiting patiently to be revisited.

I found some old photos. Not to be unexpected in a closet. However, these weren't photos I was in...nor was I present when most of them were taken. These were photos taken by a mother many years ago, of her sweet baby girl...capturing moments of her childhood, savoring the flitting and fleeting time when she was a safe, happy, vibrant little girl. There was the one that made me giggle even now, of a 5 yr old with the chicken pox...there was the brilliant snapshot of the blonde, pigtailed countrygirl on the back of a riding lawn mower wearing a white sundress freckled with strawberries.

These photos were given to me by the girl in the photos when we were about 12 or so. We had this silly idea, one summer afternoon in her parents basement, to trade baby photos of each other. We went through their family albums, and pulled out the ones that we liked. I still don't remember if she ever got any of mine. The photos ranged from her at 3 weeks old, right up to the summer of 1990, when I took 3 photos of her...because I was an expert photographer,don't you know. Funny, wannabe model photos, right down to the Kirk Cameron poster behind the brass daybed.

I was caught with short breath, and tears in my eyes when I saw these photos. While I smiled and fell back on the memories..I was slammed again with flooding emotion, and my grief as a 15 yr.old girl. That newspaper clipping beside the photos in the album, declaring, "Cambridge teens mourn the loss of Keri" took me back. I am 34 now...but in revisiting it all..I was 15 again, walking in the front door of my parents house after school..and having them tell me my vibrant, perfect partner in teenage crushes, and prank phone calls... had died that morning.

I wanted to lock the door of heaven from my side. I wanted to know her for my lifetime...not just my childhood. I wanted us to have a lifetime of memories, beginning when we were girls. To think of that now...we did have a lifetime of memories..15 yrs. is a lifetime for someone who lived life as brilliantly as she did.

I reflect on a scripture now, with much more insight, understanding and peace.
" For I know the plans I have for prosper you, and not harm give you hope, and a future".~ Jeremiah 29:11

God doesn't say, "I think I know the plans I have for you"..He says, "I know". It was no surprise to Him on April 5, 1991 that Keri would fling open the door of heaven, announce herself, and jump over a sofa into the expectant arms of Jesus. She is there...I can see it in my mind...I can hear her laugh if I listen..she's more than a memory, she is forever a part of me...her and I are forever 15.

I mailed the photos back to her brother today...I released the weight of the memory back to a sunny day in 1991, when my world spun out of control, and stood still..all at the same time. Maybe I have taken a step towards closure..or acceptance if you wish. I still see things that remind me of her...converse high tops...skate boarders, Garfield comics. But never moreso, than when I see teenage best friends...laughing, telling secrets...and being all of those remarkable things that fifteen brings. I hold back on telling them what I desperately wish to share..."remember every moment, what the laughter sounds like..what the butterflies feel you feel like you own the world, because this moment in time, is fifteen year old magic".

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