Friday, February 26, 2010

To Emily, Wherever I May Find Her


I know we don't talk much, haven't texted in a long time, but I just wanted to drop you a line and say hi. And tell you that your mother loves you.

I met your mom in November of 1988. In fact, I can remember the day well- it was the day after election day. I had lunch with my best friend, and then called her later to tell her how I wanted to kill myself. Depression was kind of a problem for me. My best friend couldn't handle it, but she knew someone who could, and later that night I found myself in an apartment above a rib joint, sharing leftover quiche with a woman named Marie. Your mom.

From the very first moment I met her I was taken with her. She was sort of a rebel, going jogging at midnight alone, sneaking into graduate level classes as a freshman, asking questions in Bible studies when you just didn't do that kind of thing. She was free-spirited and attractive as hell, which meant that I didn't have a chance, although the fact that she had a boyfriend wasn't going to stop me from thinking about what could be. College relationships don't last long, maybe I could get my foot in the door.

Well, relationships come and go, but when they come and go during winter break, with her in Illinois and me in Ohio, I never had a chance. In 1990 I graduated from college, with Marie promising to stay in touch. Later that year she stayed in touch all right; I got a letter from her telling me that she had met a guy named Rich, she was now pregnant, and would I please not judge her? Of course I wouldn't judge her. I loved her. But I finished that letter and cried. On May 5, 1991 they had a child- your sister Joy. And the door I was trying to get a foot in had just slammed shut. Sure wish I had gotten my foot out of the way.

Lesson to be learned: it doesn't matter whether you are 15 or 25 or 45, when your love chooses another, it hurts like hell.

She's been through a lot of pain in her life. There are a lot of things I wish I could tell you but I just can't. You know how it is- you have best friends. You never sell them out. Certain things will go to the grave. But no matter what she should have done and didn't, or shouldn't have done but did, she loves you. Trust me on this. I love your mom more than anything else in the world. I see a side of her that no one sees. And I know that she cares about what happens to you. Has she expressed it imperfectly at times? Yes. But she loves you and Katie more than words can say.

Is your dad an asshole? You know the answer to that question better than I, but I am guessing that the answer is yes. Any man who gives up on his children isn't a man. I would kick his ass for you if I could, but since he was in the National Guard, he could probably kick my ass J I wish I could change how things turned out in your family life. There isn't a week that goes by when I don't wish that things had worked out differently for you, Joy and Marie. But there are people who still care about you. Don't give up. Oh please don't give up.

Do you remember when you sent your poetry to me? You told me how glad you were that someone was taking an interest in the things that you had written. I haven't stopped taking an interest. I am looking forward to seeing your work published. I am looking forward to seeing your first novel. Although if you go on The View, I might not be watching J You have a lot to offer the world. But beyond your talent, beyond your gifts, you are valuable because you are, not because of what you can do. You have worth because you are Emily.

O, I believe
Fate smiled and destiny
Laughed as she came to my cradle
Know this child will be able
Laughed as my body she lifted
Know this child will be gifted
With love, with patience and with faith
She'll make her way
---Natalie Merchant, "Wonder"

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.


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