It was the Bolivian dancers that did me in. I made it through the treacly holiday music and the adorable child-ballerinas marching along in their Nutcracker mouse costumes. Hell, I even made it through a 3-hour drive in the early morning darkness to get to the parade on time with my happy mood intact. But watching those teenage boys smiling and leaping, boots a-jangle, after the girls in their microscopic skirts left me fighting back the tears.
As they passed by C hopped around on the pavement imitating the dance steps, face aglow with envy at the ornate costumes. I caught a sudden glimpse of a teenage C cramming herself into something short and tight for a high school dance. Then I grew simultaneously sad that she's growing up and terrified that she won't get to grow up. And then I imagined the smiling dancers old and infirm. And then I thought about R in her urn, wrapped in a T-shirt, in the suitcase, in the car that we left in a parking deck 3 blocks away. And then some sniffling. And then the tears.
This is it. This is all there really is. Randy teenagers and impure thoughts. At least that's what I thought for those five minutes as I stood weeping on the curb in in Silver Spring's fabricated downtown.
So sad, isn't it? One day you're strutting your stuff down the parade route in a bedazzled mini-skirt, the next day you're a mom with three-year-old, a set of cremains, and a stack of worries. Then, you're a down-on-your-luck musician playing a mournful saxophone on a lonely rooftop in the heartless city while Time, that cruel bitch-master, cackles at you. Or something like that.
Thirty-five years go by in a flash but at least it's a good solid lifetime. Would I feel better if I knew C would get 35 years? Would that be enough? Would I be more content if R had gotten 35 days instead of 12? What about 5 days with no pain or illness?
I'd like to say that I had some great revelation while watching the parade or that I achieved some level of peace with whatever other challenges lie ahead. I'm afraid I don't have it in me to be wise or peaceful. I just have two simple requests...
Oh, great universe, if you're listening, please let my girl live long enough to dress inappropriately and be leered at by some pimply-faced boy full of adolescent arrogance and impure thoughts. And, please, even though I don't espouse any particular set of beliefs about heaven or the afterlife, let there be parades and spangly costumes for R too.