Blindsided by a Piece of Paper
It feels kinda like labor pains, except in my chest.
I opened a piece of mail today and was ambushed by grief. Your handwriting on a copy of a document, listing your name, my name, Piper’s, Sam’s. Your quick, slanted scrawl, so familiar to me. I could see your hand moving across the page, chicken-scratches, an extra stroke where the ink skipped on the P, the perfect similarity of Mork written over and over from cell memory.
As soon as my brain registered what I was seeing, a sound came out of me that I’ve never heard before. A keening howl of pain, louder and more intense than any cries of childbirth. Cries of childbirth prelude joy. This cry attended profound anguish.
Your handwriting is what I fell in love with first. We wrote letters to each other. Remember? Right after we started dating, you went out on tour in Wisconsin and I was in DC, so we wrote letters. Again, after we were married – when you toured in Hawaii and I was at the Mayo Clinic getting my disease figured out, long distance calls were expensive and the time difference was a hassle, so we wrote letters. Again, when you went back out to LA but I had to stay behind in MN for a few months to help Gail, you usually had most of your free time late at night after rehearsals and showcases, so calling wasn’t feasible. Instead, we wrote letters. We established our deepest connections first through writing.
When the mail would come, I’d rush to open the letters from you. Your letters were deep, moving, filled with poetic words of love and adoration. You’d tell me about your day, and leap back to romantic words. You’d describe a funny encounter or a crazy mix-up, and then segue back to your love for me. All of it written in your beautiful, Scott scrawl.
I hadn’t dared look at your handwriting since you died. It felt too intimate and too close to the deepest part of us. And I type my letters to you. Writing them out is too hard. Too painful.
I hadn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t expecting it today. The last few days the three of us have been in a pretty deep depression. Our motivation is low, our interest in things we used to love has waned. My sleep is disturbed. The kids are having nightmares.
But this morning we all woke up feeling a little better. We laughed at breakfast when we saw Key racing across the backyard and running up a tree to try to catch a bird. The kids both made it off to school without a hitch. I made some important phone calls. I got escrow figured out with the new mortgage company. I resolved a dispute with a bank (identity theft again). I was feeling productive and strong; strong enough to open some new mail.
But not strong enough to open this particular piece. Ambushed by your handwriting. Blindsided by a piece of paper.
Just by seeing our four little names.