chasing shadows again











{April 7, 2007}   to the unborn children I might have had (after a fair amount of mango rum)

Or, at least to the children that might have been mine. I determined, years ago now, in Ecuador, to write this letter to you. It was the wake for your grandfather, or at least, the man who would have been your grandfather, a year after he died. I wrote a poem there, which is in the mail, that you should see.

I have had a bit of rum tonight. Mango flavored rum, which as the woman who was almost your mother, I do not recommend. Spiced rum, my darlings, is the way to go. Captain Morgan’s Private Stock is my rum of choice, followed by Stroh 80 (which will add a delightful hint of butterscotch to your rum and Coke). I just climbed out of a bath where I was reading The Te of Piglet aloud to no one at all (and decided there were two people I should read it aloud to). The point of telling you this, as I recall, was to illustrate that I am in fact sober enough to type, but not sober enough to lie. And that is important.

If you see this, children of the father I meant you to have, I want you to know that I love you – because as much as I loved the idea of my own children, I loved the idea of your father’s children and I do not believe that months or years or centuries will rob me of your loss. You will always be what I wanted, and though you may not be what I have had, I could never hold that against you.

In the beginning of the fall, when the sunlight began to die, your father ended our engagement. And in practically every sense that mattered at the time, and that matters to me still, ended the only life I ever meant to have. I will not lie here, not for him, not for you, and not for me. You and your father were all the life that I had ever given myself to. I will not deny that I gave him reason to leave me, nor will I deny that his choice was made with love and much suffering.

You are probably wondering why I am writing you this letter (which I had intended to tuck into the baby book my mother kept for me until you had one of your own and which I had thought of writing as a poem and perhaps sober). I can offer you only two reasons – the first is that something inside of me dies at the thought I will not write this, the second is that I never knew my grandfather and I wanted, desperately, to know who he was. Whatever came to pass between your father and I – I do not want that to rob you of what I meant to tell you of your grandfather.

What you need to know about your father’s father, before anything else, is that from the second he saw you, he would have loved you. I want you to know to know that – no matter what you do, no matter where you go – your grandfather would have loved you. He came to America and (much more so than your father’s mother) he came to speak and listen and breathe with her. I want you to know that when he at looked people he saw them. I want you to know that from that first awkward dinner until the last time he spoke to me in the hospital, he saw me – because I want you to know that he would have seen you.

Your grandfather might not always have been a gentle man, but he was always gentle with me. Before anyone in your family did (other than, of course, your father) he made me feel that I was welcome – he knew at what point exactly I couldn’t stand to not understand the conversation because I didn’t know enough Spanish and would suddenly ask me a question or tell some story in English. I want you to know that a lot of your father’s ability to captivate people comes with his blood. I want you to know that his stories mesmerized me, that his love for a place I’d never seen became my own, and that knowing him -even for a few months- changed my life.

I want you to know that he would have shown you how to find way through life in the dark. I want you to know that he would have known the words that would make you laugh, or cry, or smile. I want you to know that he could see the very best in people, and that he would have seen it in you. I want you to know he looked forward to you and to long vacations and to traveling and to the time he meant to have with you. I want you to know that I would have been both proud and glad to have him as a father and your grandfather – and that I would have shared, and will still share, every memory I have of him with you. I want you to know that cried while I wrote this, not just for him, not just for your father, but for you.

I would have been your mother, but I don’t expect I will now. I want you to know all of this anyway. I will always love your father, just as I will always love you. And, though when I first planned this letter I had expected I would be there to tell you this, that I would watch you grow up, that you would have been mine – your father loves you too. If he can’t always tell you, or always show you, that is not because he doesn’t.

When we talked about you, when you would have been ours, years before you were conceived he loved you. He will love you now. And he will love you always. As will I.

Goodbye.

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Molli says:

I’m afraid I’m going to innundate you with clichès in commenting on this. It’s heartbreaking… but there’s something so joyful in it also. I have my own letters to children unborn, but nothing as honest and generous and raw as this (although, I hope, as loving). You make every word a gift and anyone would be blessed to be the recipient of them.
To post this shows enormous courage and all I can do is sit here, crying, in awe of that bravery and beauty.



fox says:

Molli — Thank you so much for sharing that! I am very much sure that anyone who writes letters to unborn children fills them with all the love in the world – no more, no less. I actually didn’t know that anyone else did or would write letters like that. I decided to do that after finding my baby book in storage in my basement and found things that my mother wrote when she was another person, talking to a child who wouldn’t read those words until much later – I still have that book with me, I took it with me across the country (snuggled in with years worth of poems) and then onto a plane to Hawai’i because I couldn’t bear to be separated from it.

My mother and I communicate most honestly through letters, and while I don’t want that to be true of myself and my children – I would like them to have the letters and thoughts I had for them while I was carrying them and before they were born, before I could simply tell them. And that they can pick up and take with them to college, to Europe, or to the circus when they run away at age six – wherever they go, whenever they do.



Molli says:

I think what you’ve said covers very well the reasons why I have done the same thing. You are lucky to have those letters your mum wrote you. Mine lives 20 minutes down the road (which is lovely) and she does send me cards for every imaginable reason and none at all, but we’ve never exchanged letters, nor did she ever keep anything akin to a journal or baby book in her younger years.
I wrote my letters mostly because I used to be horribly inept at verbalising anything laden with emotion. I choked. Literally. Anything which I felt had to be written down. Even then, I never actually showed any of my writings to anyone, particularly not those I wrote to a child I didn’t even have.
While I can articulate my feelings a little more freely now, I still cringe at times, still choke. I’m so much more at home with the written word.
I guess that’s partly why I find it so strange to read that your poetry is to be read aloud. I never do that. The few times I’ve ‘heard’ a poem, I’ve gotten hold of a written copy as soon as possible so that I can really take it in…. but I’m getting off topic 🙂
I guess I just wanted to thank you, once again, for posting this. It is, as I said earlier, incredibly brave and beautiful.



[…] Joyful Link I was wanting to do a full ‘review’ type write-up in offering this link but I’m afaid my brain isn’t functioning terribly well at the moment. Still, I think it’s important to share any sort of discovery that brings with it a feeling of happiness. My discovery is the writing of fox over at chasing shadows again. I’ve only recently come across fox’s page and it’s taken me a couple of days to pinpoint why it is I enjoy the writing there so much. It’s joyful. Joyful and peaceful and so heart-baringly honest. For those with children, without children, wanting a child, being someone’s child (which we all are, in case that needs pointing out! ), I recommend reading To the unborn children I might have had after a fair amount of mango rum. […]



[…] I was wanting to do a full ‘review’ type write-up in offering this link but I’m afaid my brain isn’t functioning terribly well at the moment. Still, I think it’s important to share any sort of discovery that brings with it a feeling of happiness. My discovery is the writing of fox over at chasing shadows again. I’ve only recently come across fox’s page and it’s taken me a couple of days to pinpoint why it is I enjoy the writing there so much. It’s joyful. Joyful and peaceful and so heart-baringly honest. For those with children, without children, wanting a child, being someone’s child (which we all are, in case that needs pointing out! ), I recommend reading To the unborn children I might have had after a fair amount of mango rum. […]



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