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Katie got married a few weekends ago.
She’s a younger cousin—my mother is her father’s half-sister.
The two siblings haven’t spoken in 6 years.
But Katie and I do.
And her brother, Michael, too—who reminds me so much of my teenage son.
We all talk.
And I was looking forward to going to the wedding.
Alone, however, because it was homecoming and my son was going with his friends,
and my sweet Eddie would stay home while I drove 3 hours to celebrate Katie and her Matt.
My seat was to be with her divorced parents. I loved when they were together. Halloween was the highlight of our family’s memories of them.
Near the release of A New Hope, Tom, my uncle, dressed as Darth Vader and Karen, my aunt, dressed as Leia.
His belt lit up, his voice was distorted, his breathing ominous and labored—engineered by some device he had concocted. Her hair was perfectly braided and bunned on either side of her head.
They answered our trick or treaters—one group, sacred shitless, dove over the porch railing—candyless. And we laughed till we cried.
Another year, he was an Arab sheik, and she his harem girl. I wore her costume, to the nuns’ chagrin, when I was in high school—I was happy to fit into it and get to be like Karen… I hoped to reminisce about these things, and more, with them.
Had hoped to recall seeing that Star Wars movie, or 2010 Space Odyssey, or episodes of Sagan’s Cosmos; or listening to ELO songs, or Abba songs that I loved to hear on their incredible, 8-speaker, stereo system at their house in Elyria, Ohio
—back when everything was innocent, and good, and still all connected up— when Katie and Michael were in bassinets, or learning to walk, talk, and eat.
And I still had grandparents and lots of unbridled hope about love and life…
And when I wasn’t sick. I didn’t go to the wedding because I was sick
—can’t-catch-my-breath, missed-2 ½-days-of-work-that-week-sick.
And I missed the memory lane.
I missed the food.
I missed the people.
I missed the event and spectacle of two-becoming-one, and of a father and daughter dance worth witnessing…that I later learned, for which he took lessons!
And I missed delivering a handkerchief.
A beautiful handkerchief with baby-blue crocheted trim that my grandmother made and my mother, who wouldn’t be attending the wedding, wanted me to deliver.
It sat on my desk for months.
Had I enough sense, I should have mailed it.
More, told my mother to mail it herself,to guarantee it got into Katie’s hand for her something blue, and something passed on, for her special day.
laced in tiny, careful knots,
folded into 8 creased sections—having been folded for years—
rests in a plastic sandwich bag that once opened,
released the scent of my grandmother,
the scent of Avon’s “To a Wild Rose”,
the scent of my childhood,
the scent of a home Katie never knew,
the scent of the woman who loved me more than anything,
the scent of home and heart…
But I was sick.
And the handkerchief is still on the desk.
I even had played out how,
and with which words
I would hand it to Katie.
How I would ask that she always stay strong.
Stronger than the women who came before her--
to forge her new path into the future.
To not allow herself to be pushed around like grandma was by grandpa.
He broke her nose. Twice.
He yelled. He drank.
To not allow herself to ever be duped.
To lift her Matt up, always.
To make sure he lifted her up, always.
To recognize cycles of abuse, unbroken.
To protect herself.
To fold herself up in the squares of the handkerchief
and smell sweetness and honesty.
To feel a softness envelope her.
To know that our stories are knotted forever like the crochet trim made of love.
Of tangled fabric that forgets how it came to be, but knows how it is.
Tinged always with a bit of blue—forever attached to a field of white
…of surrender, of greater purpose, of grounding, of catching snot and tears
of some far-off memory of events that are ours;
some events that weren’t ours,
but hold us together with a fine delicate stitching
of thinnest thread trimming a repository
of more sorrows than joys…
And as if not attending the wedding wasn’t enough,
Tom visited cousin Michael in Austin immediately following the ceremony,
and sometime after toasting with fine Scotch, Tom collapses onto the floor,
and floats to the stars he taught me to love and respect.
And Katie calls.
And we cry.
"I am sorry you lost your dad."
"I am sorry, too, you lost your uncle."
And the knots get tighter.
This fabric gets stronger.
And the field of white dampens again as,
yet another point of time demands our attention.
Another event cajoles our connection.
Another time to re-call some time.
Another bittersweet re-collection of memory,
When we are blue.