Card Houses

4439077368_1fb8ee0199_zThis morning I sat outside drinking coffee and reading the book Junonia by Kevin Henkes. Junonia is about Alice Rice, a little girl turning 10 (double digits) experiencing profound changes within. At one point in the story, Alice realizes, “There is a lot of sadness in the world. It was there, even if you didn’t notice it at first. Like shadows.”

While reading Junonia, a memory slipped from the shadows within the pages and a vision entered my mind. I saw myself as a child, in my grandparent’s kitchen, building houses made of playing cards. I watched as I attempted to balance the cards – maneuvering and manipulating them on their sides, diagonally, vertically, horizontally, and laying them flat upon card edges. Each time they fell, I stacked them over and over again. They crumbled every time, either with a misplacement of the hand or a wind full of breath.

As a child, I experienced much loss and heart ache. Somewhere along the journey, I pressed a self-protection button to save myself from painful memories.  The button created blocks to imprison the pain. But as I’ve grown, I realize these blocks have stunted my growth. And at 5 feet 1 inch, I wish to be taller. I can see now, beyond the walls, a place where I can experience everything completely. So, I took to learning how to break down these walls of limitations I’ve put myself in. I continue to chisel through for freedom but as they crumble, the ache deepens. The memories creep in. They tell me – they’re not all bad. But the good ones, they warn, are the ones that hurt most.

I believe this memory of card houses appeared to me while reading Junonia because the book hit a loss in my heart. I am grieving; my great grandmother recently passed and has joined my grandmother (her daughter) in heaven. I tell my children they are our angels watching over us, protecting us. And grandma is whispering prayers into our ears like she did when I was a child.

I miss being young although, my family broke apart many times, there was always a home with my grandparents. They were my constant. I could return home to them at any time. Throughout my life, I have lived with all of my grandparents at one time or another. And now, two of my homes are gone. I have one more left before, all of my card houses fall down.

The memory floats away in the wind with the turn of a page. Their patterns swirl in the sky above me landing in bushes, trees, books and things, marking a trail to be recognized.

I feel it slipping away and try to hold to it with the grip of my fingertips. I put as much as I can remember onto a page. I had to write it down. I want to remember, I remembered. I want to witness the work I’m doing inside. I’m breaking through more blocks. And, although I am sad, I feel free because I am writing this now instead of pressing the panic button to reset the blocks.

The ache feels good because I know it means I loved them. My angels are here blowing me kisses in the shape of memories. They come to tell me they love me and to help me rebuild my card houses.


Peace & Love,

Ashley Kagaoan

Photo credit: H is for Home / Foter / CC BY-NC

Author: AshleyKagaoan

Ashley Kagaoan: wife, mother, writer, Libra, human. She currently resides in Southern California with her family.