There’s an open box of tampons sitting on my bathroom counter and I can’t get myself to put them away. Every time I pee or put on make-up, there they are, staring at me. The little blue carton has taken on illogical meaning these last few days – like the pack should be carefully placed in a glass case and observed – like an artifact. If archaeologists discovered them in the cabinet under my sink, they’d presume a young woman once lived here – a woman who could get pregnant and have children. The tampons are a relic of my younger, carefree life.

Of course, I really don’t need to keep them. My last period ended this weekend. But when I considered throwing the tampons away or giving them to a friend, my thoughts unexpectedly jumped ahead 8 or 9 years – when my now 5-year-old daughter, Lexi, will get her period. The idea of her not being able to raid my personal stash, as I had done with my own mother, turned my stomach and tightened my throat. I started to grieve the part of our relationship Lexi and I will never share.

Women connect through our menstrual cycles; I was with my grandmother when I first got mine. She made me stay in her bathroom, promising not to leave, until she could run to the supermarket and buy some pads. My grandmother hadn’t had her period in years and was excited that this was all happening on her watch. When she got back from the store with a grocery bag full of the necessary supplies, she eagerly talked me through what was happening with my body. When I got home, my mother picked up where my grandmother left off. My mom taught me how to use tampons. Tampons as baton. We learn from the older women in our lives.

Lexi will no doubt rely on me too and I don’t think she’ll care that I stopped getting my period when I was 37. What I think is more important is that by having my surgery the day after tomorrow, I am doing my best to ensure I’ll be here to answer all her questions when that unforgettable moment comes.

So, I’m keeping my half-full box of tampons. When Lexi is ready, I’ll be ready. Eventually, I’ll tuck them away in the back of my bathroom cabinet under the sink. But for now, I like looking at the box. It’s somehow comforting.

Maybe I’ll put them away when I get back from the hospital.

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