Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dear Morgan

My sister and I were discussing what to
get you for Christmas and on my walk
in the rain to the post office
I thought of something I could give you.

It belonged to your mother, a necklace,
that she gave me when I was about your age
maybe a year or two older.
It broke over the years and recently
my mother had it fixed and when she gave it to me,
I cried.

I don't have anything else that belonged to your mother.
A few letters. A few photographs of all of us together.
A weathered newspaper obituary.
But that is it. The dry ink of family.
Celluloid snapshots of faces in the kitchen, of food being made.
Photographs of time.

Morgan, you are almost 11 and you don't remember her.
Next year you'll be 11 and a half,
and that won't change. I only had a handful of days,
visits, letters, phone calls, over all those years,
like the first call when she sounded so much like my sisters,
her voice like a voice I should have known sounding over
an ocean of impossiblity. A chance most people don't get.
But I can't give you that.
I can't give you your dead mother's voice.
I can't give you the days, or the few letters, or the phone calls
in a way of explanation about who she was.

But I can give you this necklace,
that meant so much to me.
It broke before she died.
But not before she said she couldn't see us anymore,
this "other family" that we were.
Not before she decided that the wires would be uncrossed,
as they were meant to be and we would all float through this world,
not wondering about being related to the guy in the bank and not even knowing it.

When it broke, I carried it around in a baggie
next to this shipwrecked heart, thinking too much about blood,
disease and the cells of my undoing.
And then eventually I stopped carrying it.
That is the way of acceptance, I suppose.

What I'm trying to say is I was going to give you that necklace, Morgan,
but I can't.
You have a household of things she touched,
breathed life into.
A household full of photographs,
your father's memories,
your grandmothers memories.
Those people who knew her in a way I wasn't allowed to.
You have that.
I have this necklace.
This is all I have left.
Christmas or not.
This is all I have.

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