Mixed Bag

Mixed Bag

I’m assuming the phrase “mixed bag” originated with something like a bag of candy that didn’t just contain one type but a variety. Maybe there were Hershey’s kisses mixed in with sweet tarts and licorice sticks. Personally, I would eat the kisses and give away the sweet tarts and licorice sticks. Others may have a violent reaction to chocolate (how could I live??!!!) and scarf down every last sweet tart. Taken to the next level, even within a piece of candy can reside a mix of yum and yuck. Have you ever bitten into a piece of See’s candy and loved the outside only to discover the inside was some weird nougat concoction with no apparent relation to its decadent chocolate covering?

Today was a mixed bag. Even a mix of yum and yuck.

For the past few years, I have taken a picture on the first day of school at Mission Hills with a couple of my dearest friends, Stephanie and Alice. Today was different. This is the last year Stephanie will be taking that picture with us as the mom of a Mission Hills student because her daughter will graduate in 2020. This is the first year I’ve taken a back-to-school picture when Chandler isn’t here.

I see us together and I’m so grateful for these friendships. And I remember that things are different…that next year will bring more changes. And it’s a mixed bag.

Tonight I attended back-to-school night at Charli’s school, Santa Margarita Catholic High School. I love meeting her teachers, saying hi to folks I know, and walking around the campus that my daughter has called home for the past three years. I am so proud of my girl — who she is in this world. Her willingness to speak her truth and unwillingness to allow someone on the fringe to be exploited. I could go on and on.

I tried to focus on this night.

My mind wanted to drifted back to 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011…back-to-school night at SMCHS for Chandler. I look for connections. Did he have this teacher or that teacher? Did he do a back flip off that tree? There’s the diving board where he qualified for CIF semi-finals with no diving experience but a spirit of no fear.

It’s a mixed bag.

This is what it’s like, this grief thing. You can’t separate it out. You can’t tell it, “This is my daughter’s night…take a back seat.” So you enjoy every freaking moment you can enjoy, and you keep your brain steeped in the context at hand. But sometimes it refuses to cooperate. You either expend your mental and emotional energies refusing to acknowledge that everything is different or you allow yourself a brief time to live into what was….what you thought would always be and would eventually weave itself into what is.

In the first class I visited, the mom in front of me asked about my kids, and in the course of the conversation, it came up that Charli is my second child to go through SMCHS. I showed the mom Chandler’s picture and said, “Charli looks a lot like her brother.”

Then I came back to now and the evening that is Charli’s back-to-school night.

There is no right or wrong here. Only a figuring out a day at a time. A moment at a time.

It is a mixed bag.

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