Coming of Age Inspirational Latinx

Pulling to the Goodwill Donation Center triggers a hurricane of mixed emotions. It brings memories that I forgot were there. It makes me feel like a part of me comes back to life while another one dims.

I look over my shoulder and see the box of clothes with her name sloppily written on it. Where does the time go? She was barely four when she first wrote her name on it, now she's far away, living the life she always envisioned. I wonder if I did right, or if I did wrong. I mean, what else can a mother think when their child wants to leave their side? I guess I'm being silly. I guess I don't know how to deal with the departure of my little girl.

I feel tempted to reach out and open up the box. What's the worse that could happen? Someone pulling over next to me giving me a judgy eye? I'd get arrested for reminiscing about my life with my kid? What could happen?

I unfasten my seatbelt and jump to the back seat. I open the box as though a Christmas present. The flaps of the box come undone and the irreversible wave of nostalgia slap me right in the heart. I feel like I've made a mistake, but I can't help it. My heart melts with every piece of clothing I pull out. Her sunflower onesie, her school uniform, her prom dress... I try to keep my tears in, but I can't help it. My child is no longer a child. She's a grown woman gone to SMU to study law. A woman who wants to show the world the feminine power of a Castro.

I allow myself to sob, let my lips quiver and bury my face inside my hands. I go through the five stages of grief over and over. I can't help but feel like a big part of my heart is gone. I suddenly realize I'm not capable of giving her clothes away. I feel the impulse of jumping in the driver's seat, turning the ignition on, and peeling off the parking lot, but instead, I take a deep breath. I exhale.

As much as I don't want to, this is an opportunity to grow. She always says that I need a bit of coldness on top of my hot-head; seek a different perspective to see things differently, and I guess... this is not only her departure, it's not only her way of growing but also my opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. My opportunity to see life in a new light.

With her, I always knew what to do. Everything revolved around her, so it was easy to make a to-do list of the day. Breakfast, school, work, homework, play, sleep. Repeat. Now, my days without her revolve around... me. Is this the time in which I search for who I am? Is this the time to reach out to the person I forgot I was? Is this the time for me to adventure and find a life partner? Is this the time to go enjoy my savings? Invest? Become my own boss?

I look at the open box and every item spilled all over my car. I take a deep breath. I pick every item one by one, feeling a bit of me getting packed inside the box. I close it and with all the courage I can muster, I open the door of my car. I step out to a sunny day and the fresh breeze of approaching Fall.

I swivel my head and fix my eyes on the donation center sign on the side of the building. I knit my eyebrows and step into growth. Not looking back. Except, I'm not moving.

I'm standing there with a box full of clothes, looking at a sign as though posing like Batman with his bat-signal plastered on the sky. I will myself to unglue my heel off the ground, but I can't. I'm stuck in place, not wanting to make eye contact with anybody. I purse my lips as I look down.

"C'mon, Tamara," I say aloud. "You've got this. It's like ripping off a bandaid. Do it quickly and get it over with. Do it quickly," I say swaying back and forth. Doing so for another minute.

"Are you--"

"I'm fine," I interrupt without making eye contact with what sounded like an older lady. I can hear her mumbling away.

Why is this so hard? I think to myself. What would Emilia do? I think of my daughter's past actions. The day she rescued her puppy from the pound, the day she knelt during the national anthem in her school soccer game, the day she applied for the school she wanted. She was determined. She was unfaced. She always said that the best part of our lives wasn't in the past, but in the future and that that future was always today, in the present. And I guess I finally understand that.

My life has been my life not because of what's been, but what it could be. Staying the same won't change anything. Growth, though painful, will always be the determining factor. I take another deep breath with my eyes closed, and as I do, I step forth. A vehicle honks and scares the living hell out of me. I cuss him out for no reason and hurry to cross the crosswalk.

The sliding door of the center opens up and I step inside. I don't know what I expected, but I am surprised by the number of boxes stacked on the side of the entrance. There are rows upon rows of boxes reaching the ceiling.

"College mom?" The cashier says.

"Pardon me?" I say knowing damn well what she said.

She chuckles, "College Mom," she says as she walks from behind the register. She motions me to follow her as I hold Emilia's box in my hands.

"It's difficult to see a child go, but there's nothing we can do. it's called growing up. It's tough, sure, but what can you do? Nip their wings and let them die without letting them fly? Or worse yet, nip your own to give yourself a sense of humbleness?"

I feel slapped in the soul. I survey the boxes and see names I've never seen before, and handwritings that were marks of someone else's kid.

"Each of these boxes represents a lifetime packed away," she steps in front of me and turns to face me. "And it also represents the new lifetime they will help fulfill. A new lifetime of growth." She extends her hand for the box. I look into her eyes then shift back to the box.

"A new lifetime..." I say mostly to myself. "I like that," I hand the box over.

She grabs it, "I'll take care of it from here. You focus on the next chapter of your life and become the woman you wish to become."

I nod involuntarily. "Thank you," I say. She flashes a motherly grin, turns around and walks away with the box. I stand there, watching her with eagle eyes. A flood of memories overtakes my mind, but I don't cry, in fact I feel rejuvenated. With nothing else to say or do, I turn around and go out the building, not waiting for my tax receipt. Outside, all around me, all the sudden, the possibilites seem endless. What to do with them is up to me. It's time for some growing up.

March 26, 2022 12:07

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