Two years ago, my mom and dad were here for what would be my mom's last Christmas. We didn't know she would be gone two months later, of course, but we all knew that her health was failing. It was the elephant in the room; we circled around her, voicing concerns about oxygen, her immune system, and her failing memory. But we rarely broached the subject directly. None of us wanted to think about life without Mom.
On Christmas morning 2013, my mom gave my dad a gift; a small journal. She had written short paragraphs on each page. Memories, thank yous for a better life than she had ever expected, and thoughts. It wasn't mushy; my mom was not a sentimental person. And it was that -- the fact that my sensible, emotionally strong, and practical mother had given my father a very sentimental and romantic gift that did us in. We cried. All of us. My dad didn't read it then; he couldn't. He carried it around with him in the months after her death until he was ready to open the pages.
Brett and I were deeply touched by the gift of the journal and we spoke of it often. A few months ago, around the time of our anniversary, I had an idea which I shared with Brett. We both struggle with finding appropriate cards for each other on birthdays and anniversaries. I suggested we buy a notebook and write a card to each other in the book on those occasions, or whenever the mood strikes us. Brett loved the idea but he didn't want me to buy just any old notebook. He wanted to find something nicer.
Christmas morning I opened a gift from him containing a beautiful leather journal, hard bound, with a green silk ribbon.
But the part that made me cry (and made his face buckle watching me) was the inscription in the lower right corner. Many of you know how much I love France. I practice French everyday; I read books and magazines in French; I love French wine, cheese, and food. One of my closest friends, Sylvie, lives in Brittany. Brett, who doesn't speak any French, had researched and translated into French the phrase -- "Shared thoughts and emotions."
This morning I wrote my first entry.