The day proved to be difficult and joyful sometimes in succession, sometimes the emotions overlapping. The best surprise occurred when Price pulled up next to us in the street in front of the house. Apparently, we all offered to help and Duchess led us all to believe she needed each one of us. (Insert a big wink here)
Her dad and brother had already taken a load to the new house when we arrived and it didn't take long for Kim, Josie's mom, to point us in the direction of helpful. Wade and Joey began loading the back of Wade's car (aka "the man van") with furniture. The first item was Taylor's futon.
Taylor resided just at the top of the stairs in a room she endearingly called the "bachelor pad". A space that didn't exceed ten feet by ten feet would meet her needs for one semester as she was supposed to study in Spain during the spring semester. Joey and I began taking the futon apart as it would not fit down the narrow staircase in one piece. The memories of Taylor and I studying each screw, where it was attached, and the best method of taking it apart and getting through a narrow door and up a narrow staircase vividly flashed in my mind. It was the first time good memories were as real as some of the wrecked ones. She and I were so proud of ourselves to have dismantled the thing, wrestled it, angled it, willed it through the door, up the staircase and over the stair railing with a modicum of less-than- lady-like language.
Wade and Joey wrestled with the frame and mattress this time. Down is always easier than going up. Taylor would have had a sarcastic, superior remark for them. I was lost somewhere between last June and this June.
Josie's mom tackled the kitchen leaving it in much better shape than Taylor and I found it when we moved in. It's no wonder Josie is such a wonder with Kim as a mom. I took the upstairs. I battled the dust bunnies and found more bobbie pins. When the power vac wouldn't suck one up, I hollered in disgust and then slid it into my pocket wishing that I could still be disgusted by bobbie pins lying everywhere. Funny what isn't such a big deal anymore - and yet what is.
I cleaned the bathroom and found the shower curtain Tay and I had picked out for her apartment with kendal. It was blue with a that hip geometric print. I remember she was so bummed when she discovered that we were short one very cute shower curtain hanger. She didn't like it hanging cock-eyed - but didn't want to spend another five bucks on a package of four. I remember her surprise and amazement when I folded the end over and stuck the hanger through both holes. "Mother, you are really smarter than you think you are." It was meant to be a compliment, but Taylor always had this tone she could use that made you think - maybe she wanted you to think she was complimenting you when really she was laughing at you.
The nails where she hung her pictures and her painted canvases lingered in the walls. If I took one out, would her laughter ring for only a second? Would her voice, saved in this space, leak out and call me Mama one more time?
What joy we had that day making her room and staking her independent claim on life. We talked about the meals she would have to prepare to bribe her male friends to come mow the lawn. They did; though I don't know how much she cooked. We discussed the need to clean on a regular basis, though I am not sure that ever happened. She created paper initials out of craft paper for each roommate and hung them in the living room. Two M's, a K, a T, and J. Her ability to make a home touches me still. Those letters were some of the last decorations we removed. Josie took them with her. What this small, but mighty, soul holds within her - I just don't know.
We had hours to make fun of Josie and the large amount of stuff she had accumulated for such a little girl. Laughing with this family with whom tragedy and friendship connect us filled us and emptied us.
This weekend I listened to Vice President Biden share a thought with parents and loved ones of fallen soldiers. He said, "I pray for the day that the smile comes before the tears when you remember."
Thankful today because Duchess always made that girl smile. Being in that space, empty, without her closed another chapter in this book I never wanted to read or write. But I did smile, because that old musty, house on PIckard made my girl smile.