“Zoey!” I call out, the impatience apparent in my voice. I glance at my watch as I place my daughter’s lunchbox in her backpack.
7:32 a.m. Five minutes until we need to leave.
She’s supposed to be brushing her teeth, but instead of running water and toothbrush scrubbing, the only sound I hear coming from the bathroom is her sweet chattering. Zoey’s been talking to herself since she first learned to speak; how comforting it must be, I think, to always have someone to talk to, who you can always count on to listen. If it was the weekend, I would have just smiled to myself and let her carry on her conversation, but alas, it’s a school day.
The first bell will ring in 13 minutes.
– – –
“Come on, Z,” I say as I step into the bathroom. She looks up and smiles as she can now see the both of us reflected in the mirror. I slip up behind her and bury my face into her neck.
“If I have to ask you one more time…” I playfully growl.
“Mommy?” she asks.
“What’s up, Pea?”
“I wanted to tell you something.”
I look back into the mirror so she can see me. I roll my eyes. “Now you’re just stalling. Brush. Your. Teeth.”
“No, really, come here,” she says as she pulls my face next to hers. Carbon copies of ourselves blink back at our real versions.
“I told my teacher the other day that the only thing different about your face and mine was the color of our eyes.” Her hands squeeze my cheeks. “How cool is that? Other than your green ones and my blue ones, we’re the same!”
We’re the same….
One day, when I am gone from this earth, Zoey will probably be nostalgic about me and our times together. Being a masterful storyteller, she will no doubt find ways to keep my memory alive, so I wonder: How will she remember me? What stories she will choose to share?
I look at my tiny 5-year-old in the mirror and picture her all grown up, telling her own children about how when she was a little girl, she thought their grandmother looked just like her.
And as Zoey’s blue eyes stare back at my green ones, her innocent pride pulling her lips into a happy smile, I think of the legacy I want to leave behind.
Isn’t that something that we all should keep in mind as we go about our days? How do we want our loved ones to remember us? Will their memories of us turn into stories told with proud smiles and endless love? And in those stories, what words will we want written on the pages?
As for me, I want to be remembered fondly (I mean, don’t we all?). So for now, looking at Zoey’s beautiful face in the mirror, the words I decide to write on my pages today are those of love, patience, and gratitude.
“You know what I told someone about you the other day?” I ask her as I hand her the toothpaste and toothbrush, my head still next to hers, my arms encircling her waist into a hug.
“What?” she asks through a mouthful of bubble-gum scented foam.
“That when I grew up, I wanted to be just like you.”
Though the colors may be mismatched, our eyes crinkle up smaller when we smile; in the mirror now, both sets are almost non-existent.
But then the sweet moment passes, and we are in a rush again. We quickly grab our bags, rush down the hall to catch the elevator, and buckle up in the car so we can get to school on time.
Yet despite feeling harried, we laugh and rock out to the radio and play I-Spy and tell each other about what parts of our days we are looking forward to the most.
And that’s when I know: That’s the person I want to be. That’s the person I am. And if I make sure to always practice being me — being happy, playful, joyful, and positive — that’s the person she’ll tell stories about. That’s the person she’ll remember. That’s the person she’ll love.
That’s the person she loves.
So today, I decide to put those things into action. I go to work and I smile at my co-workers as I say good morning. I dive into my long to-do list with enthusiasm. I think about how lucky and blessed I am in all aspects of my life.
And I also set a reminder on my phone to wake up 5 minutes earlier tomorrow morning.
Just in case Zoey and I decide we want to create some more memories.