Hello from Sunny Florida! Or not... In the three days since we have been here it has rained at least ten times. And not just slight sprinkles like we get back home. We're talking torrential rain storms, complete with palm trees bending in the wind. Luckily, they don't last long, but rains such as these I've never seen in my lifetime!
Something else I have never seen in my lifetime? So many people with manners in one spot. The people here are so nice, so sweet and courteous, I am in my element. Even a child who looked up at me from his crouch on the floor as he tied his shoe looked up at me and said, "Oh, hello, ma'am. " I was so surprised by his impeccable manners that I immediately forgave him for making me feel 100 by calling me" ma'am" (Surely, we're not old enough for that yet, are we?) and I was close to giving him a dollar. It's one thing I truly miss, children and people in general with manners. No wonder everyone thought Sarah was so well - mannered, while I was embarrassed more often than not by the impertinent things she said. We were working on it, and she was getting better as she grew older, but I would like to think that my daughter would have been of the "yes, ma'am" variety if I had gotten to finish what I started with her.
The trip has had its little bumps to be sure, a cold I caught on the plane (again, attributing to the lack of manners from us west coasters) and other such minor disasters, but overall, I am determined to make the most of things. This is, after all, a trip we are taking in honor of Sarah. Disney World was on her bucket list, and so my mother and I have made a pilgrimage of sorts, carrying one of Sarah's beloved Lalaloopsy dolls in memory of her.
Sarah carried at least one Lalaloopsy doll everywhere she went, and no more than four, since even fun, liberal mothers such as I have their limits. After much deliberation, we decided to bring Pepper Pots N Pans. Don't ask me why, this was the one that made the final cut. Sarah was an equal opportunity employer, she rotated her toys fairly and equally, and Pepper has not been anywhere in quite some time. So, while she was not among the favorites, she was chosen nonetheless, and so I have been making myself subject to some very strange looks as I carry around this doll at age 34.
See, someone sees a grown woman carrying a doll, they expect to see a child in tow. When they don't, they assume either the family has become separated and the child is elsewhere, or that I'm insane. Judging by the looks I've been getting, the latter seems to be the first thing that springs to mind. Which leaves me in the difficult position of having to explain my purposes for being a grown woman carrying a child's plaything. I say simply that it is my daughter's doll, hoping that it will be enough, but it never is. Telling them this naturally begs the question, where is my daughter? This is where things get sticky. People's curiosity gets the best of them, and I am forced to hurt them with the truth. Through tears that hover just beneath the surface, I am forced to say out loud that my daughter passed this April, and then I get that look. That heartbreaking look of sympathy and regret, and suddenly, I feel worse than they do.
This happened not once but thrice at the Titanic exhibit. I nearly left the doll in the car. But my mother insisted she wanted it for the pictures and begged me to retrieve it. Which I did. And then the different character actors thought they were going to be clever at my expense and then instantly regretted it. Which broke me down. Perhaps it was the kindness in their eyes, not just feigned sympathy but true regret. Perhaps I was just tired. I have to say it out loud at least once a day, my daughter is dead. I can say it with a sympathetic smile now, sorry to make the asker uncomfortable. I don't know why all of a sudden it was enough to break me down. But there it is.
Today was a Lala hunt, which is always exciting, especially when you find what you're looking for, and then a tour of a chocolate factory, which would have been a lot more fun if we had had Sarah and not been stuck behind the Annoyingtons. I swear, I don't know why it is that everywhere you go there is at least one annoying family with about a million kids they can't control, a harried mother and a father who couldn't give less of a shit, but they usually end up somewhere in my vicinity.
A seafood dinner and impromptu shopping trip soon set things to rights. Tomorrow is Disney World. I'm excited, because Disneyland is one of my favorite places on the planet, she my daughter inherited that. I am ambivalent about tomorrow, hoping that I don't break down for no reason over seemingly nothing, when really I just miss my daughter so, so much. Already, Sarah would have had a blast with everything we've done, airplane turbulence included. If there is anything my daughter taught me, it's that every cloud has a silver lining. (Yes, pun intended. I went there, deal with it!) I am determined to enjoy this trip every bit as much as she would have, and I know wherever she is, she is smiling.