Remembering Is My Love Language
A few years ago, when I was still married, I woke up on February 9th in a quiet room in a snow-covered world. A few moments later, I heard the slap of little feet in the hallway, and the boys came barreling into our bed, giddy in the way kids are when there is freshly fallen snow on the ground.
“It’s a snowy Feb 9th.” I said, as Jack did a somersault across my legs. From our bedroom window, we watched the snowflakes wafting down, covering the tree branches in a thick white coat.
“It’s a snowy Feb 9th.” I said again, as Ben crawled over and sat in the middle of my husband’s bare chest.
“It’s a really snowy February 9th, this year,” I said.
Why do you keep saying ‘it’s a snowy February 9th’?” My husband asked.
“February 9th. The day my dad died.”
“Oh,” he said. “Right.”
Later that day we took the boys sledding. As I stood at the bottom of the hill watching my husband and our older son standing at the top, the sun pushed through a layer of thick clouds, casting a honey-colored light over everything.
Seeing the sun against the snow reminded me of another February 9th, a few years earlier, when
Jack was just five months old and we flew cross country to meet my mom and sister and my brother and his family in Vermont, to honor the 10 year anniversary of dad’s death. Snow fell on that trip too, blanketing the country roads until they were barely drivable. But in the morning, the sun was shining. By some small miracle, all of the kids’ nap times and snack requests and moods aligned and we all bundled up to play in the snow. It was probably only a few minutes that all nine of us were outside at the same time, but it was right then that a repair man we were not expecting pulled into the driveway. We asked him to take a picture and he took one of the few pictures we have of our family, lined up in the snow.
Humans are funny creatures. We want to be known and remembered. But also, we want our remembering to be remembered by the people we know. And we want to know if the people we are remembering remember us too.
If remembering were a love language, that’s what mine would be.
A few days ago, it was a switch day for the boys, a day when they go from their father’s house to mine. I met the three of them at the pool and we all swam a bit. After, the four of us stood outside, our hair still wet in the crisp winter air. As we were saying goodbye, my almost-ex-husband handed me a manila envelope. I was nervous for a moment. When you are in the middle of a divorce, you never know what news a manila envelope could hold.
“It’s from me and the boys. For the 9th,” he said.
This morning, when I woke up, there was no snow but the clouds in the sky looked like a feathered wing. I opened the envelope and found three cards.
“Dere Mom, I’m sore your dad died.”
And “I love you Mom."
And, “I hope you see his humor, intelligence and dedication in yourself and in our boys.”
I do. He lives on in all of us. He lives on in the memories.