It will continue to amaze me that everywhere I go, there is a thread of Erin. At least for me. I went to Publix to buy some thank you cards with Shaun, and as I walked in and saw the area they always put their seasonal stuff I thought of Erin. I looked at the cake and balloon area, and thought of Erin. I went to the bathroom and there she was. I went into her favorite stall, and when I washed my hands I thought of how she always used too much soap, took such a long time to wash it off, and how she hated cold water washes (she would wait on the hot to heat up). I thought of how I was always there waiting on her to give her a drying napkin or whatever they had. I rarely let her go in alone. She was always my most precious accomplishment in life and I wasn’t about to let anyone snatch her.
I thought of the last time that we went into Publix, and how we looked at protein bars to take on our trip to Iowa. Erin had needed extra protein in her diet back in the spring, and we always had protein bars because she didn’t like the kid’s version of Ensure. She said it hurt her stomach, and that it tasted bad. She was so picky. Everything had to be just “so” or she wouldn’t eat it. She would compare each piece of meat to the others and only eat the ones that looked the same. Sometime this year, I finally told her that it was flesh off of some animal’s bones, and that it was never going to all look the same unless it was fake and processed in a factory to look that way. I’m not sure that helped my cause of getting her to eat, but it was the truth!
When we stopped at Starbucks, I thought of Erin. She liked to drink tall hot chocolate, kid’s temp, extra whipped cream. She would always notice if the barista did not drizzle some chocolate on the whipped cream, and she loved to have a hole stopper, one of those cardboard things that you use for hot drinks, and a straw. She didn’t need any of that but I guess it was neat to have for her so I always got her one even if she didn’t go in with me.
Today I will see both of Erin’s best friends, separately. It just worked out that both families wanted to come over today. I will miss her friends, and will miss seeing them grow up together. She and Simone Howley had started saying that they were going to live in an apartment at Auburn, and adopt a lot of animals. I am not sure what her and Anna Kate Stafford were going to do but I’m sure they had some plan. Erin sort of kept her friends compartmentalized, but not to be mean. She never liked to leave anyone out and so it was often easier to just give one her full attention. So when Anna Kate would come into town (after she moved), Erin would devote her attention to her, and otherwise have one-on-one play dates. She knew what it felt like to get left out and that was just the best solution any of us had. I am not sure it was the BEST solution, but anyway, I suddenly felt like I wanted to explain that to whomever wanted to know.
I am suddenly panicking at the prospect of giving some of Erin’s things to her friends (if you are reading this, don’t worry about it), but only because I am so discombobulated on the inside. The truth is she would want Anna Kate to have their favorite Barbies and her McKenna doll. She wants Simone to have Oliver the black stuffed cat that she gave her on her first hospital visit, and who went into several surgeries with Erin (he went each time we were admitted). I am intuitive enough still, in this state of chaos, to know she WANTS them to have them. So I devised a plan to take pictures, and to put them in a scrap book and label them with what they are. That’s the memory I need to keep, not the stuff necessarily. My mother kept all of my stuff and 30 years later it was all ruined and not even savable due to how it was stored. I don’t want to do that.
I will admit when I saw the dad in Publix with his daughter, hugging and horsing around going down the aisle, I cried. If you see me out and I’m crying, just look the other way. I am sure that I will be crying for a long time. I miss her terribly.