Every once in awhile I run into an old hand-written one-pager from my husband. It was left for me on the kitchen counter one morning during a particularly trying stretch of our marriage. The stretch where I was leaving him.
The note has been re-awakened through the years. Uncovered in a fit of “I have to clean EVERYTHING right now!” Unburied from a Tardis-like nightstand drawer. Or caught on the errant breeze of yet another damn moving day. This time, the note was stolen.
Last night I discovered that an eight year old with a gap-toothed grin snuck one (or maybe even three) Tagalongs from my personal bedside binge stash. They were conveniently located next to a well-loved journal of mine, because sometimes when I pour out my soul I need a project cookie. The evidence of cookie thievery was ample. And when confronted, she did not deny the charges, though the question still looms of whether it was one or three cookies…
The perplexing thing, was that somehow in the kid who snuck a cookie escapade, my journal became soaked. It was wet, nearly cover to cover. Miraculously and by the grace of a mother’s guilt, the pages were soggy but not smudged. I sniffed those pages close and hard but couldn’t trace the source. It was a mystery!
When my blue-eyed Brownie told me that she honestly did not know how my journal got wet, and I saw her reach out to touch it with concern, quickly adding, “also I promise I only took one cookie, Mom …”, I gave up. I believed her.
I opened the journal in front of her, slowly turning the pulpy pages.
“This is a journal I’ve been writing to you kids. For forever. Sometimes there are big, empty months between entries. Everything feels important enough to write about, and so sometimes I just can’t, because it’s too hard to pick one memory or milestone or poetic explanation of my feelings about watching you guys grow. But anyway, these are my thoughts, to you and your brother, on and off and on again since you were babies.” I pulled out some items that were stuffed in between the pages. A baby shower card. A gift list. Ultrasound photos. “Is that my skeleton?” she asked. And then there it was again. A note from my ex-husband.
So I stole it. Tugged it away as discreetly as I could in front of those ultrasound-awestruck Cookie Monster eyes, and tucked it into my lap. It wasn’t a note I necessarily wanted her to read. Or one that I wanted to explain.
It was a note that gave birth to a new shade of painful every time I unfolded it along its hasty seams. It was a note that felt as heavy as a train wreck and as hot as a dumpster fire.
It was a note of a love that had been wronged, but hoped one day to be righted. And in time, I believe in fact it was.
I stole that note out of the journal that I write to my kids. And I moved it to a wooden box that I call My Love Box. The box is filled with things that have been written, instead, to me.