But then I saw it. And at this point, it's gone beyond "I should do this." And even past "I NEED to do this." Right up to the point of "I'm doing it. Now." With the last $30 I borrowed (before my big juicy fire check), with hands covered in green paint and a smashed finger. With the list of things I need to do squished back in my brain behind the Importance Of Remembering.
Next December is 20 years from when a sweet and innocent 16 year old left us. For no other reason than it was Her Time. Through no act of malice. No drunken foolishness. No thoughtless risk. Just... Accidentally. Like Junha. It just happened. In spite of all of our protests and anger and sadness and debilitating grief - Erin Christine Hoops, 16 and beautiful, giggly, intelligent... She left us.
I was pregnant with Halle when the accident happened. The next year, I had a little red headed blue eyed girl and I named her MacKenzie Erin, because it was beautiful, like her. And to remember how short life is. How fleeting.
Almost 20 years later and every time I come to that intersection I remember. And it makes me think. My MacKenzie Erin is 17 now. I have been able to have her for a year more than Chris and Gail had their Erin. Things aren't perfect. She's not perfect. But she's here. And she's beautiful. And we can sort through the imperfect, as long as she is here. Which is more than enough reason to stop. To set aside my list. To get my hands green and smash my finger. To remember.
We only have the days that god gives us. And all we can do is our best. And when our best sucks, or wears down, we get to get up and do it again. Put on a fresh coat of paint. Green and alive and reminding.
And when it's all done, suddenly the things that seemed So Important, and big enough to sink me, are really not. Not the list of things for the marriage counselor. Or groceries for the kids when I leave for my next fire. Or Radar's long overdue puppy shots. It's all easy cheese, really. Compared to Forever. And No More. And The End.
I drive through Kettle Falls a couple times a week, and every time I think of her. I'm sure I'm not the only one. And it seemed important that Someone Knew that that Green Cross on the corner still matters. It still teaches and reminds, just like Erin Christine does, that we have A Whole Lot to be thankful for, and we'd better quit wasting time.
PS - my haphazard (as per usual) paint job is not enough to salvage the brittle plywood for long. I'd like to find somebody with better resources than me to help me with a more long term fix... If anyone has ideas?