I Remember Her

I remember her.

She found some pieces of wood and some nails, and used her Dad’s wood burning kit to make a sign that said, “Jen’s Place”. She walked down the hill to a small clearing in the woods where a fallen tree formed the perfect seat among the may apples and wildflowers. She picked up a rock nearby, and pounded the sign into the earth. She looked at the handmade sign and the little piece of earth she claimed as her own. She smiled to herself as she sat on the fallen tree with nothing more than the wishes of her heart.

She watched the birds fly from branch to branch, calling to each other in their sing song voices. She watched the leaves change colors as the breeze upturned them one by one. She sat motionless, studying a ladybug walking across her shoe. She smelled the lilac blooms hanging in the air, and looked up through the branches at the crystal blue sky.

She breathed in the fresh air and thought her thoughts and dreamed her dreams. She breathed out the emotions of the day in a hush that caused the stirring in her soul to quiet. She felt calm wash over her, and she sat in the stillness until the sun no longer trickled through the swaying branches. Sunset was coming and she headed back to the house.

She was too young to know the value of solitude, but she found it in nature. What she didn’t know was the world would consume her; and one day, she would stand up from that fallen tree and never sit down again.

I remember her.

She finished her homework and packed her school bag. She grabbed the notebook from her nightstand and clicked the pen tucked inside. She carefully wrote the date at the top right corner and spilled her thoughts all over the page in curly-cursive. Sometimes the words spun onto the page like a Sunday drive and sometimes the words rushed out so fast, they jerked onto the page like a ride on a bumpy wooden roller coaster. Sometimes, her emotions fell onto the page and smudged the ink that told the story of her heart. No matter the thoughts transcribed by her pen, she wrote until there weren’t any left. Only then would she close the notebook.

There were many notebooks. Rhyming poems about frogs and rose bushes and the tree at the top of the field filled a few. Short stories about fairies and families of mice, schoolyard antics and adventures with friends filled a few more. Folders full of scraggly papers pulled from school notebooks contained poems and stories left to finish another day.

She was too young to know how much writing meant to her. She was too young to know there would be years in her life when there would be no time to write. She was too young to know that it was in those years she would lose herself.

I remember her.

That girl who grew up in the middle of nowhere. That girl who played in fields and woods and in the creek. That girl who spent mornings watching cartoons and afternoons making dandelion necklaces. That girl who sat on hay bales and rocks by the water. That girl who jumped off the back porch with an umbrella, convinced she could fly. That girl who climbed trees and hillsides and played tag in the cornfield rows. That girl who arranged bouquets of weeds, and called them beautiful.

I remember her.

That girl who thought the sky was the limit. That girl who thought nothing could stop her. That girl who thought anything was possible. That girl who made a 100 wishes instead of 1 when she blew out that candle on her birthday cake. That girl who wasn’t afraid to dream. That girl who wasn’t afraid to get hurt. That girl who never doubted herself. Not for a moment.

I remember her.

That girl was unstoppable, until the world said she wasn’t.

That girl dreamed big, until someone told her she was silly.

That girl gave her whole heart, until someone broke it.

That girl had all the power, until she gave it away.

I remember her.

I want to find her.

I want to be her.

I didn’t realize how far gone she was. I didn’t know there was a hole in my soul.

But I felt it.

I had been praying for God to make me who I was supposed to be.

Maybe it wasn’t so much I had a lot to learn, but maybe I had to remember what I already knew. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to become a whole new person, but become more of the person I used to be.

That little girl on the fallen tree knew more then, than I did right now.

I was caught up in the world, in the ‘to do’; running to the next and missing the in between.

I was caught up in emotions; holding in and swallowing down.

I was caught up in people; contorting and confining myself to please others.

That little girl became unrecognizable. That little girl became small.

Little girl lost.

What if that little girl had the answers to the questions I was asking myself? What if the peace I was looking for was the peace I found in “Jen’s Place” years ago? What if the release I needed was found in a spiral notebook with a pen tucked inside?

What if this personal journey led back to her?

That little girl and I needed to become reacquainted. We needed to reminisce.

That little girl was strong. That little girl set her mind free to think, and allowed her heart to feel; without boundary. She didn’t avoid the hurt. She felt it, and let it go.

That little girl constructed a world with no limit. That little girl went for whatever she wanted, without entertaining the possibility she wouldn’t succeed. That little girl didn’t seek or need validation from others. That little girl didn’t sensor her words, her thoughts, or her actions. That little girl didn’t change shape to fit in.

I remember her.

I needed to be more like her.

Over the last few years, I found pieces of her.

When I got sick, I had the gift of time.

I started writing again. I found my voice. The silence was over.

I started writing, and I didn’t stop.

Floodgates opened. Sweet release.

I filled spiral notebooks, and journals, and sometimes scraggly pieces of notebook paper. I typed feelings into a keyboard. I wrote my truth. I shared God’s message. I laughed and cried and shouted and whispered through the written word. I gave myself permission to hurt, to celebrate, and to feel. There would be no more silence. The notebook of my heart would never close again.

The way it happened was fluid. When my heart opened, my senses did too.

I saw the sunsets and the flowers and the puffy white clouds. I heard the raindrops, and the crickets, and the breeze in the trees. I smelled the fresh-cut grass, and the blooms in spring. I tasted the salty air.

I sat with my thoughts and absorbed nature into my soul like that little girl. For years, nature was a backdrop. I was too wrapped up to look up or look around. I occasionally noticed a blue sky or a bird in a tree, but I wasn’t connected, not like those days spent sitting on the tree in the middle of the may apples.

Now I stood at the ocean’s edge and got lost in the waves as I sent my thoughts and prayers over the horizon. Now I watched the birds fly from tree to tree and let their calls drown out the sound of my troubles. Now I looked up at the crystal blue sky, and let my cares waft away on the puffy white clouds. I breathed in the fresh air, and breathed out what was on my mind.

There was peace in my heart. And that hole in my soul started to close.

I now remember how writing brought peace to my heart.

I now remember how nature brought quiet to my soul.

I now remember how to be who I was supposed to be.

I now remember how to be free.

Because I remember her.