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Sometimes I Know

October 3, 2013

It is no secret that I am a lover of paper.  Of words and ink and postage stamps.  Of ephemera.  Of sending bits of love out into the world, across entire countries and oceans for less than it costs me to send a chocolate bar from the top to the bottom of a vending machine.  I have loved many things during my life, but this one has remained consistent over the decades.  From the first holiday cards, Valentines from my grandfathers, postcards from great-aunts.  Yes, I love this.

As a parent, I know there is no guarantee that what I love will also be loved by my children.  The smallest bear does not like squash.  Or opera.  The larger smallish bear does not like anchovies.  Or Jules Verne.  Even so, I can count on excited giggles and even jumping up and down when they find out there is mail just for them.  This makes me smile.  They have not embraced the writing of letters the way their mama has, but I do harbor secret hopes.

Lima Bean was six when we chicken-sat for my sister over a school break.  While we were away, we learned that our next door neighbor’s dog had died.  Lima Bean loved playing with that dog.  We told her the news, quietly, not sure how she would choose to respond.  An hour or so later, she came to me with a card she had made.  “I made a card for Mr. Tom.  I told him I was sad his dog died and that he should get another dog just like it so he won’t be sad anymore.”  It was her first letter written without specific direction.  This proud mama took her straight to the post office and told the clerk all about it.  He laughed and gave her a coloring book.  He helped her put the stamp on and sent it off to our friend.  Secret hopes, yes.

A friend of a friend sent an email asking if my eldest would consider writing to her daughter.  I said yes before discussing it with Lima Bean, knowing she would at least write once even if it was rather forced.  When we first talked about it she was hesitant.  “What should I say?  What do you know about this girl?”  And I said the sentences that became a refrain over the past two weeks.  “I know her name.  I know where she lives.  I know how old she is.”

In the car on the way to school, “I wonder what she reads.  Do you think she reads?  Eleven was sixth grade.  Sixth grade was really hard, that was when we moved here and I didn’t know anybody.  I wonder what movies she likes.  Do you know what movies she watches?”  I looked at Lima Bean.  “I know, I know.  Her name, where she lives, she’s eleven.”

Last night, Lima Bean sat down to write.  She did not grumble or whine.  She wrote and erased and wrote again.  Sealed it up and handed it to me.  “Done,” she declared, smiling triumphantly.

I don’t know what is in that envelope.  I do know that looking at it makes me feel like maybe sometimes I know what I’m doing after all.  Not all the time by any means, but sometimes.  Sometimes I know.2012-09-03 11.14.27

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