I don’t let go of friends easily, partly because I had a difficult and scary childhood, where I was passed from person to person in my first year. Three times, a nearly complete change of adults. By the third time I wanted to be independent at nine months. A nine month old cannot really be independent.
We went to live with my maternal grandparents when I was three. I don’t remember much from that year. My mother said I would lock the child gate at the top of the stairs and stand there and cry. My imaginary friend, Dazo Freenie, was the one who shut the gate, so I couldn’t open it again when that happened. This was an old house with 14 foot ceilings and a fireplace in every room. My mother was recovering from tuberculosis and the second child, and she says she hated climbing those stairs to unlock the gate. I do not remember this, though I do remember Dazo Freenie.
What I remember was a moment in the garden. My maternal grandmother, Katherine White Burling, was out with me. There was a bush with berries. She told me they were currents and that I could pick and eat them. I was not to pick anything else and eat it: only from that one bush.
I was beyond thrilled to have a bush that I could go to when I needed food. I did not understand that it would not produce year round. I think I figured that out later. I was three. I had to let go of the idea that I had that food source. Sometimes we think we have something very very special and it turns out that we don’t. Then we have to let go.
The photograph is one of my son and daughter-in-laws pet rats. They rarely live beyond three years. Then they have to let them go.
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