It has been a few days since we spoke and I told you that I would start collecting my poetry and all the writings that I have been doing lately to send to you. I have had family on my mind a lot lately and there is a story that I need to tell you, one that I know you perceive far better than I.
It had been a long, excruciating Summer afternoon. The smell of dirt under my nose and saccharine chocolate between my canines. We lived at the house on Tidewater at the time, the only place I longed to roam about when school got out in May. The sun was surpassing the trees and I knew dinner was getting hot by now. I’d be craving glazed ribs (before I became vegetarian) and pasta soaked in alfredo, only to hope there’d be brownies looming from the oven for when we’d finish. The rest of the kids would be collecting themselves at the dinner table by now, like caricatures climbing into a clown car. I left Jessica, my bird of a feather from around the street corner, after a long day of Bratz and Mary Kate and Ashley: “Sweet 16” on the PS2. Trotting up the driveway and in through the tawny front door, I was greeted by mom in our tiled entry way. She was soft and warm. The smell of her clothes and her skin like home and fragrant perfume were my favorite hello’s (they still are). I saw a look in her russet eyes that faded south of her half grin. She looked at me with forgiving eyes and said that it was Nana’s birthday. I was puzzled and I didn’t see a face. Odd. I have a lot of family and have collected many faces into my subconscious over the years but this one, I cannot touch whole in my mind.
When we wound up at the Sun Burst house when I was 11, we lost the creek. Deep green, zig-zagging through backyards where we would hold hands in black inner tubes and race to where the neighborhood ended (and where our parents demanded we stop). I got my first scar in that creek. The house on Sun Burst would still be just as vibrant and asking of those scars. We’d have a deep cherry tree and equally sized green apple opposite one another in the new backyard. Sunsets that rained through our neighbor’s oaks. I’d notice butterflies skating through our large maple and they would hang on the lattice work underneath. I would watch them whenever I was out there. I still do. Mom and I would sit on the back patio and she would tell me how she thought of Nana when she saw them glide. The Monarchs and the Swallow Tails, the Blues and the Skippers. I never even asked why. I saw the peace in her eyes as they would dip up and over the bushes and the fence and I only smiled.
Maybe that’s why I’m sending this to you. I never asked a lot of questions about Nana, I only ever responded with a smile. I can’t imagine my questions could make you feel any less emotional than my own mother would, but Grandpa – tell me all you can about the butterfly that brings my mom back home.