Sometimes 'broken' families are not actually 'broken.' They can still be tied together with very strong thread.
"During my visit to my daughter's house this month, I cleaned her room. Even though she's 16, the mess seemed older than she is, than even I am; but, like anything that has gone on too long, it was time, and I took that time.
Like a whirlwind I sorted, tossed, cleaned, moved, vacuumed. Jennica didn't have the interest, energy or focus to help, so I made quick of it in order to get back to "our time together," so short, so sweet.
Later, two states away, I uncurled the sales receipts I had stuffed into my pocket, one by one, as I had found them in the bags on the floor. Empty bags, partially empty bags, with a little this or that in them. I smoothed the sales receipts out methodically, -- no, reverently, like I was laying out infant clothes and marveling at their tinyness.
These were pieces of her life, these sales slips, of places she had gone and things she wanted or needed -- things I didn't know about. Panda Express stir-fry chicken, Forever 21 knit top, Claire's Boutique 1 pr. earrings. Those must have been the earrings I saw her wearing that she called my attention to because they were new. I did get to see that. Oh, I did! She was beautiful.
Slip by slip I watched her travel shop to shop, spritzed and tangy from Tangerine Breeze body spray from Bath and Body Works, dropping crumbs from her chocolate chip cookie as she walked, laughing with her friends, being herself.
Those stores maybe see her more often than I do, but she's just another pretty face to them, looking at ways to be even prettier. To me, she's the most beautiful face in the universe, even when she is mad or crying. She can be no more beautiful if she tried; she can be no more mine.
But the sales receipts each touched a moment in her life that I didn't get to see. Now I place them in a neat stack and pick them up carefully, like a curl of cut hair, to put in my Jennica folder.
They aren't secret; they aren't the same as tucking her into bed when she was six. They are little snowflakes that fell upon the footprints her soccer shoes left in the untimely snowfall on a summer green field."