Today’s post is in the “fearless, memoir” category.
When I think of facing fear and acting with courage, this is the earliest memory that comes to mind. It was the first, but certainly not the last time I would have to take this walk. It got easier each time, which is the point of the story. In my own words…
Sometimes acts of courage are thrust upon us.
Sometimes we knowingly choose to take the courageous path.
Each act of courage gives us the fortitude to face the next opportunity
with the knowledge that we have the strength to overcome our fears.
At seven years old I stand at the end of the driveway, one step away from the sidewalk. I’m dressed in shorts and a tee shirt, sandals on my feet. Biting my lower lip, I look at the kitchen window of the only home I remember. Is anybody even watching? I wonder. I turn my head and size-up the one hundred feet to the next driveway.
In my right hand I’m holding a small, brown suitcase. Normally it’s full of doll clothes. Not today. The doll clothes are piled neatly on my bed. I’ve filled the suitcase with pajamas, a tooth brush and a change of clothes. In my left hand, clutched to my chest, is my favorite stuffed animal, a tan dog with one dark, brown ear. The other ear was ripped off in a tug-of-war with one of my brothers.
I take a big breath in and blow it out, making a sound like rushing wind. My chest hurts; my heart is heavy. So many thoughts are running through my mind. Why am I the only one who has to leave? Why is mom in the hospital? When will she come home? When can I come home?
Holding back tears, I step onto the sidewalk. One foot in front of the other, I slowly take the longest walk of my life. Approaching the neighbors’ house, I hear the family out back on their porch talking and laughing. I stand outside the screen door, all forty-five pounds and forty-four inches of me.
“My dad told me to come over to spend the night,” I say in soft voice, quavering and uncertain, barely covering the sob that was about to leak out.
“Come in. One of you boys take her suitcase and put it in the downstairs bedroom. Would you like some strawberry shortcake?” the mom asked.
“Yes please. That’s my mom’s favorite dessert.”