Next to my pillow, close enough for me to reach out and touch, is a handwritten note from my mom. I found it after she died, on a day when I searched desperately for her, calling her name even though I knew she wasn’t there, clinging to the last tissue with which she’d blotted her signature red lipstick. I found it on a day I needed to talk to her.
I unearthed the hidden treasure while kneeling on the cold garage floor, digging through a box of pictures. It was buried under notes and pictures my sister and I had written to her in crayon…roses are red, violets are blue, you’re the best mom, that is true..I unfolded it and saw her unforgettable handwriting, as recognizable to me as her smile, her scent, her voice. It was timeless. It was infinite. It was as if she’d reached down from heaven and handed it me.
Do you know how special you are? You are cute, pretty inside and out, and you have done a great deal with grace and dignity. Have lots of fun and happiness. Do not be afraid. You are so much, you have so much. What a wonderful human being you are.
God bless you and keep you all through the night and wake you pleasant with the morning bright.”
I’m not sure when she wrote it or why. Sounds like maybe I was heading off to camp or college. I’m not sure why she never gave it to me. I just know that it was the most precious gift. She told me to be happy at a time when grief made happiness seem like a distant memory. She told me not to be afraid, when I was consumed with fear that life without her would never be the same, that in losing her, I’d lost the best parts of me. She told me God would keep me safe through this dark time, and a bright morning would follow, by adding a little prayer I had heard nightly,being tucked in as a child.
I don’t think the same note, typed on paper, or saved from an email, would have been so powerful. I wouldn’t have heard the words the same way, read to me in her voice, without her actual distinctive letter formations, spacing, even some spellings and capitalizations.
Her handwriting transcends time and space. It is my touchstone. It is a gift.
I hope someday a note I’ve taken time to write in my scraggly left-handed print, finds its way to my loved ones’ hearts and comforts them the way my mom’s note has comforted me.