Sunday, September 20, 2009


Dearest You,

I remember the day we were stretched across your bed in the basement of your parent's house and you gave me a pair of wire rim glasses.

"These are for when you play Annie Sullivan," you said.

"What do you mean?" I asked. I knew our school was teaming up with another high school to do partner productions of "The Miracle Worker" and "Monday after the Miracle," but it was summer and there had been no casting sessions, no drama class gossip, nothing.

"Of course, you'll do it," you said. "Who else is there?"

Once for Christmas, you gave me journal, blank save for the corner of a page here and there where you had copied in your careful, even script bits and pieces of letters I had written. That you cared enough about my voice to re-write it verbatim still amazes me. How nice it is now, to page through and find myself at fifteen, seventeen, twenty...

We fought once in high school, though now I'm not really sure why, but I remember after several days of no communication, you left a package with my father before jumping in your little grey car and speeding out of our driveway. Inside the package was a flannel shirt in a neon cowboy print. You'd admitted to hating the shirt, when we saw it in the shop, but you bought it for me anyway.

One summer during college we lived together and felt free to indulge in our mutual love of Cool Whip and Boggle. When I think of that summer now, I remember mostly sitting outside on our small patio in the rain-cooled late afternoon watching your hand write lists of words. Your hands were "without bones," a friend said once, with skin soft and unwrinkled, knuckles almost invisible. Not like my chunky, banged up hands with their torn cuticles and bulky joints.

When I married, you made me a quilt, stitching the whole thing by hand in a gorgeous kaleidoscope of colors. You stayed with us just after the wedding and I would come home to find you covered by this quilt, carefully moving your needle up and through. The television would be on, an odd sound in the daytime in my house, though one I know you find to be comforting. It was nice to see you there, settled in a chair, your hands at work. That was the summer that you disappeared now and again and for a time, I didn't understand why. When you explained everything, I saw that in moving your hands over the quilt you had been working to stitch yourself into the world more securely.

You have done this. You keep doing this.

You always talk about my writing as my "work," and I am finally beginning to understand that it is work. When I sit to write this today, I am imagining your handwriting, the sure way you move a pen across the page. It is work to keep yourself stitched into the world, work to be so open. It is work to share with others in a way that invites them to share with you. It is good work.

My children know you and love you. I do not think it is surprising that you gave my daughter the stuffed animal that reigns over all the others. The frog she has named Celina, may not be the toy she plays with every day, but Celina is the toy she always returns to. According to my daughter, Celina knows everything.

Thank you for your careful nature; for your seriousness and for your vulnerability. Thank you for your certainty, your silly voices and your warm tortillas and for the continued faith you have in me.

I have faith in you, too.



  1. Thanks for such a beautiful birthday gift, dear one. Keeping oneself stitched into the world -- such a poignant metaphor for the journey. Much love. xo.b