I wonder which stories I’ll remember? That my ex-husband, their father, wrote prayers on little pieces of paper and stuck them into the walls of our house 9 years ago when we were remodeling? That when we ask for prayers we sometimes don’t get exactly what we asked for in the way we asked for it, but get something different, something even better. And so if the prayer said something like, “look after the people in this house,” or “take care of the people in this house,” it also might welcome their divorce because helping them to separate with love might be the very best way they learn to take care of themselves.
Will I remember how after the remodel was over we had a big party and asked everyone to write us love notes on tiny strips of paper and then hide them in the house; tucked behind paintings, within the pages of books and under flower pots, so that for years and years we’d come upon these missives when we most needed them.
Will I remember how I fantasized about getting a crock pot and being the kind of mother who’d start dinner or think about dinner by mid day so that when they walked into the house they’d be greeted by the aroma of love – instead of the mother who opened her refrigerator at 6pm to survey the possibilities.
Will I tell them the story of the schoolgirl skirt? Or how I wore it once for a man?
Will I tell them that I didn’t really, really love their father, standing there in the apple orchard on the day I married him, but learned to actually love him, to hear and see him, and learn to take care of him 23-years later after the ink had dried on the divorce papers?
Could I tell that story and help them to understand that the heart is a wiley coyote, a scared child, that the heart can be selfish, that learning to love, circling love, finding the right words for love can take a life time, and that meanwhile you do your best. You get up again and again, you try to let go of all the things that keep you from love – mostly your fear that you won’t be loved – and show up anyway. And if I tell them that story, won’t I be still living it? Still trying to get it right, still trying to let them in and love them even as I lay there old and on my way out, afraid for everything that will be lost, everything I never got to touch or taste because I was afraid to love?
This post was inspired by a poem we used in our Wild Writing class this morning. Here it is:
Tell Us a Story
I wonder which ones I will remember?
That I loved my boyfriend’s best friend?
That I rode the lonely train to Boston?
That I could never hold myself together?
Maybe I should just tell them
Milk was $2.89 a gallon and bread was $3.29
And an iPhone was $200
In 2010, when I was 22.
– Natalie Wise