She liked to think of herself as a brave artist and writer. “But I’m not the brave writer and artist all the time: I’m just me. When my friends talk on the phone about the details of raising their babies, when I hear their little ones playing in the background, I don’t tell them how painful it is for me. I don’t tell them it breaks my heart when their toddler gets on the phone and greets me by name. I don’t tell them how much I miss being able to hug their child and swing him around the room until he shrieks, delighted and dizzy. Instead the conversation is over. I cry, because I’m not that brave.”
Sometimes, though, the answers we get are not the ones we expect: The letter from a stranger that arrives in the mail, thanking you for ending her overwhelming sense of loneliness; the tea you pour for strangers, served alongside your mother’s gingersnaps; the fairy tales you spin for your stepdaughter in the dark.
The sad but beautiful truth is that we cannot know what we leave behind.
26 January 2009
Tiffany Lee Brown in The Oregonian