Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The value of a handwritten note.

I don’t know if everyone who has lost a loved one thinks the same way I am, right now.

(Actually, I doubt very much that anyone thinks the same way I do. That statement probably has "psycho killer" written all over it.)

As someone who is unsure about God and all the things my mother believed so much in, it might sound crazy, what I’m about to say (any of it it, actually). I’m finding it hard this year to get excited about Christmas. On Saturday, December 20, it will only be five months since my mother passed away. I’ve been missing her so much lately. The few sentences in this paragraph seem to cover so much ground, and none of it goes together: faith, Christmas, grief. But the other day I was sitting in my car, driving somewhere. The car is where I either get a lot of thinking done (quietly, alone, moving along, or not moving along, depending on the flow of traffic) or I do absolutely no thinking at all (iPod on, volume set to very loud, singing badly and as loudly as possible). I was sitting there, driving somewhere, and for some reason I was imagining myself having a conversation with a friend, who was not present at the time. I don’t know why I was talking to him in my mind. Maybe because this person is a great listener, and unemotional but kind. It’s good to talk to someone like that – it makes me control my own emotions, and to be a better storyteller. In my head I was telling him about something that happened last week.

Jules found the little bag of cards I've been saving for him. I keep them hanging on the inside knob of his bedroom door, but he’s never noticed it before, even though it's been there his whole life. I thought it contained only the cards I received at each of the baby showers I was so lucky to have, but it turns out I had forgotten that I've been putting other cards in there for him. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, even an anniversary card from my husband. He dumped all the cards out on his bed, and started pulling out the ones he liked: one with a kitty on it, one that made sounds. I read them all to him. He was enjoying it. Then he found one that my mom had sent to him for his first Valentine’s Day. He asked me to read it, so I read the corny printed message. Then he asked who wrote it, and I said, "Grandma wrote it."

He asked me to read it, so I did. I don't remember what it said, but I remember feeling shocked to see her actual penmanship: her style of writing, which I always thought was so pretty. My sister agrees. Mom's handwriting packs a powerful punch. In those loops and swirls: my mother lives. She had a special way with the cursive capital letters. At the time she gave him the card she was still strong and able to move around well. Later her writing got messier and her thoughts weren't clear. I read what she wrote, and I started crying. It was the actual penmanship that made me undone: her strong hand that I'll never see or feel again, and neither will he. I wiped my face and said, "Let's go get your daddy." We went to the living room where Patrick was relaxing on the couch in the dark (only the Christmas tree lights were on), and Jules went back to his room to get something to show him. While he was gone I really started crying. Patrick rubbed my back and gave me a hug, and then he went into Jules’ room to finish getting him ready for bed. I went to my own bed and fell asleep for a while.

So... I’m telling this story to my friend, in my head, remember, and I say to him (he who is not present), as I get to this part in the story, “I miss my mom... I wonder if she misses me.”

I haven’t actually said those words to him yet. I don’t know if I will. It’s totally illogical, and therefore, something he would hate. But I think that’s what is at the core of my sadness right now. I'm pretty sure my friend would say, in response to my question, “I think that’s something one tells, not something one asks.” But how will I know if I don’t ask? I've been saying that my whole life. Anyway, there's no one to ask, is there.

(I think my friend would also remind me to not take what he says so seriously.)

She's gone. I don’t know how “gone” she is. I don't feel like, wherever she is, that she could miss me... but how could she not? - I don't know. I don’t know how to find out.