O Happy Day!–A Room of Your Own!
This is the day that the LORD has made! We rejoice and are glad in it (Psalm 118:24–Adapted)!
We’ve been preparing a room for you, the room that you chose now that your brothers are no longer at home. “I want a room with windows,” you’d said. It was a simple request, after all. You then continued with your petition. “Ian’s, please–because his windows look out at the creek,” said in a sort of dreamy, winsome way.
So we took a look around the space–determined what needed to be done that we might make his room your room, that room that had first been ours–Daddy’s and mine–when we moved to Selah Farm in August 2002. We’d first chosen a buttery yellow for our walls, which, upon purchasing the house built in the early 1930s, were simply stained beadboard throughout. Ian and Jacob, who were to share the room next door, chose green paint for their walls, and all the ceilings we painted white.
That was nearly eighteen years ago, dear Allie, and the boys were only four and a half and three. We’d pressed their painted hands upon the closet wall to mark the occasion the day we moved them in. Jacob giggled when the paint brush tickled his palms and Ian, who never liked to be messy, immediately washed his after the endeavor. And the prints are there, still to this day–though your brothers’ hands are the capable ones of men now.
When we remodeled in 2007-2008, adding on the new part of the house, Ian took our room, and Jacob kept theirs as his own. Daddy and I moved downstairs to the guest room until ours was complete. We lived for more than a year in dust and debris–just thick plastic hung between the “old” and the “new” once the two were connected, like conjoined twins who shared the same heartbeat while maintaining unique traits of their own. Such was–yes, is!–the heart of our home.
Though we added on to our house, we suffered a loss that same year–the year our remodeled home was born. The girl we thought would be our daughter came for a fleeting summer, then left without warning, and my heart stopped for a moment, it seemed. When I was finally able to breathe, I did so tentatively at first–less trusting, more fearful. Then life carried on. Though the dream for a daughter wasn’t dead, it was tucked away. That, after all, seemed safest.
In time, Ian painted his “new-to-him” room Green Bay Packer’s yellow, and that’s how it remained, until this weekend when it was washed “Polite White”–the pale pink color you carefully chose. How fun it was to paint it together–despite some arguing, fussing and such. “I want to help,” you’d nearly cried, and we’d reluctantly handed you a brush, though we were honestly afraid of the mess that might ensue.
Not so! You did great–filled in the grooves where Daddy’s roller hadn’t quite reached, brushed off clumps of thick paint that threatened to run globs, dry like tear-streaks and leave a memory. I believe I had more paint on me than you had on you by the end of the day, though I wasn’t the one who pretended to sniff the wall and then “accidentally” fell in to fresh paint, dot the tip of her upturned nose. No–that was you, dear Daughter. Yes, that was you!
And before the task was finished, like the dotting of an “i” or the crossing of a “t,” we pressed your hand, painted “Meander Blue,” onto the white wall of your closet–the closet in your new room that had been Ian’s that had been ours that had, no doubt, been others before us. Your hand print is there now and will remain, along with your name and the date, just as the boys’ remain in the closet that was Jacob’s that was shared for a season, too, with Ian, and which had been others also in years past.
Yesterday I hung curtains–taking down the book-nook that Grandma Faith created for you in the room that became yours when you suddenly came to stay eight years ago, the room that you didn’t choose but made your own, with your stuffed animals and dolls, books and knick-knacks. The room with no windows, except for the sky light that I quickly learned needed a cover. Because, at only three, when little girls need their sleep, you’d awake before birds were singing, the sun’s rays just beginning to pierce through darkness, and beg, sleepy-eyed, for breakfast. Too often, I’d grumble, I know, and I’m sorry for that, dear Daughter. But you simply didn’t seem to require sleep, and I wasn’t a young momma of a toddler. Oh no! I was already two or three years into forty, and I needed all the beauty sleep I could get, let me tell you! So I sewed you a sky light cover–the one that is still there in that room that you didn’t choose but made your own. The one that, just the other day, you lamented about, saying, “I will miss it, Momma. Can you take it down and make a sky light in my new room? Use it there?” Of course I cannot, but perhaps you’ll use it instead as a pillow or a seat cover. We’ll think of something, darling Daughter.
As mentioned, I took the curtains from your book-nook to hang at the windows of the room that’s soon to be yours–those curtains that your late Papaw Denny hung on a shower curtain rod, strung with little white LED twinkly lights to make the space so nice and cozy. And as I disassembled the arrangement, I nearly cried–thinking of the Grandma and Papaw love that made the space that became home for the plethora of stuffed animals, where you, just the other day, hid when it was time for bed. “I’m ready,” you’d called, and we’d entered your room to find not you but a bolster pillow under the bedclothes. “Where ever could she be?” we’d asked, stifling snickers. Then Daddy went to your book-nook “zoo,” feigned fatigue and proceeded to sit down and rest, applying just enough pressure to your over-sized bear until giggles erupted and you were discovered there in the far corner of that room, the one you didn’t choose but that you’d made perfectly your own.
The curtains hung, I considered how to tie them back on sun-shiny mornings when streams scream to come inside and dance on your carpet and Polite White walls. Suddenly I knew, the idea whispered to my heart. Her daddy’s spurs–the ones Uncle Steve sent to us, knowing that his Great-Niece Allie loves horses almost as much as he does, her cowboy uncle, brother to Papaw Bill. And not one pair but two had been sent in a box from Uncle “Cowboy” Steve, and each was hung–at the windows and the door–to hold back curtains in the room that Allie chose, the one that had been Ian’s after it had been ours, after all those others since 1935.
And then, after the curtains, a few chosen things that you transferred from your old room to your soon-to-be new-to-you room–your favorite picture of you and Cousin Ali Beth at your first (and only) ballet recital. Your stuffed unicorn, several butterflies, and, of course, your over-sized bear. Oh, and a special suitcase!
And there will be other things, too, won’t there, dear Girl–as you make the transition from the room that you didn’t choose to this room that you did? It will take time, because that’s just how you do things, is it not? So sentimental are you, like your momma–who has a difficult time saying goodbye, accepting change, even when it’s chosen. Why, you’d confided just the other day, “I’m afraid I’ll miss my room when I’m gone,” and you will–much like I asked my momma–your Nana–when I was preparing to get married all those years ago, “Will my room always be my room?” And she’d said, “Yes,” because she knew that was the best way to help me make that step, as simple as it might have seemed, even though secretly she, too, knew change was on the horizon and that her “yes”–though not forever–was true for then, and that was enough.
And I say to you, too, dear Daughter, “Yes. You’ll miss your first room–the room that you didn’t choose but that became yours when you came on that bright sunny Saturday, carrying your suitcase and never left. That room that you quickly made your own–called out to us, “Momma! Daddy!” from its walls in no time at all, even fell out of bed once, perhaps just to see if we’d come.
And we did! (We always will!)
I’ll never forget. Though the bedrail had been secured, somehow you’d inched your way though a mere few inches near the top and Kerplunk! We’d heard you from our room, just down the hall, and Daddy went running, so worried was he. We found you in a heap on your floor, crying and scared, and he scooped you up and kissed you, soothed your fears before tucking you securely back in bed–the bed that, though a hand-me-down, was a step up from the pull-out chair you’d at first slept in, as you made that transition from having been in a crib only weeks earlier–still at your Bunny’s, just after your Papa Jimmy had passed. In what I’m sure seemed like the blink of an eye, you’d awakened in a new bed in a new room with a new life–a life that you didn’t perhaps choose but that you quickly made your own when you, dearest Daughter, came to stay.
And it’s no surprise that, when we visited your Bunny again some months after you’d joined our family, the first thing you wanted to see, besides her, of course, was your old room–the room that you didn’t choose but that had been chosen for you when you left the home of your guardian and arrived at Papa Jimmy’s. The room with the mauve walls and the toy box, and the crib where you’d slept, and you remembered. “That my bed!” a toddler you exclaimed, pointing, and you just wanted to crawl up in it again–perhaps feel again how it had felt, though so much had changed since the last time you’d dreamed there on its pillow. You were content to simply sit there, and I’d told you how big you were–that you no longer needed a crib–and you’d nodded as I lifted you back down. Feet on floor, I believe you’d wiped your little hands on your legs, as if to say, “There. That’s that,” and I breathed a sigh of relief, having, if only for a moment, felt again that faint stirring of loss.
That bed in your old room at Bunny’s, though no longer yours, somehow boosted your security. Funny how something so simple could do that. And, come to think of it, only a couple years later when we visited her in her new home–when you’d read aloud to her from Goodnight Moon as she silently sipped from her water bottle–you’d inquired, “Can I see your room, Bunny?” She’d looked at you with what had been empty eyes, but lit up then. “Yes,” she’d agreed, nodding, and we’d wheeled her down from the lounge where others were gathered to the quiet confines of her private space. You’d marveled at her bed, her bookshelf–found delight in seeing your photo, too, there among the others. “That’s me!” you’d pointed, and Bunny smiled. Always her girl!
Soon we will move the remainder of your things to your new Polite White room, but not before the bed that Daddy discovered (after much searching online, I might add!) arrives and is assembled–that perfect bed just for you. A place where you and girlfriends will whisper in the dark, giggle, no doubt–where you’ll dream dreams, of both the asleep and the awake varieties. A bed fit for a cowgirl, that’s what this bed is, and together we’ll find just the right comforter and accessories. (How fun!) It’s not so high that you’d get hurt if you fell out, and bedrails are no longer necessary. You are eleven, after all, though I can hardly believe it!
This bed will make your new-to-you room complete–this room that you chose after eight years of living in a room that you didn’t but that you made your own just the same … because that’s what you do, dear Daughter. Much of your life you didn’t choose, but you’ve always transitioned. In fact, we like to say–
Allie blooms right where she’s planted!
And it’s true, just like the springtime flowers that were beginning to bud the day you arrived with your suitcase–that March morning you came and never left. And only several months later, on this day eight years ago, a judge deemed you ours with the strike of his gavel, and in an instant, just like that, you became Allie Elizabeth Roberta Hollingsworth Clark Miller–way too much of a mouthful for a girl of barely three, so you just said what you knew.
I A-ww-ie. A-ww-ie Mi-ww-er.
And you are–forever ours. No matter what room you inhabit, you’re always at home in our hearts.
Happy ‘Happy Day,’ our dear Daughter. We love you more today than yesterday but not as much as tomorrow, and we’re beyond blessed because of you!
So thankful you came to stay, because you’ve helped make our home complete.
A Poem For Allie …
You came as Spring flowers were starting to bloom,
Not yet April, frost still on the grass;
A suitcase in hand, you were searching for room
Where you could blossom, planted at last.
The first two years of your life had been
A challenge in all sorts of ways,
With some complications and many unknowns —
Then the loss of a loved one, the end of his days.
Papa Jimmy had chosen to make you his girl;
Adopted, you filled the home that he shared
With dear, sweet Bunny — with whom you twirled,
As she taught you to dance, especially when scared.
On that morning at breakfast when your Papa fell
And the ambulance came to take him away,
Somehow you knew, the details you’d tell
When you came to our house to stay.
You’d often recall how you’d seen him go,
Saying, “He’s now in Heaven. He’s safe with God.”
Not even three, you seemed to know,
And at first this seemed rather odd.
But as the days with you passed quickly by,
Over time we came to learn
You had a good memory, a very keen eye,
And we learned more about you at every turn.
Despite your losses, despite the pain
You’re most often happy, bubbling over with joy;
You dance in sunshine, you dance in the rain,
Friends are your favorite — whether girl or a boy.
And oh how you love both cats and dogs,
Horses and goats and chickens too;
So much to learn, many questions you ask,
Like “Why is it brown? Why can’t it be blue?”
“A blue kitten?” Oh, Allie — you make me smile!
What joy you bring to our family, our home;
We’d travel the world, walk many a mile
If you were lost just to bring you back Home.
You belong with us now, our darling — our dear,
You color the world — you’re a fine piece of art;
Our daughter you are — about that, do not fear,