Monday, July 1, 2013

An Open Letter to Jen, Ben, Jack, and Nick


 
We moved twelve-hundred sad and conflicted miles to the house that’s next door to yours. 

Josh was three, just potty-trained. 

Nick was two, too shy to talk.

Jack was five, big as seven.

At 41, I was as empty as a jack-o’-lantern with a smile carved into it.   

We shared a driveway. 

We took turns shoveling it. 

We borrowed your snow blower.  Then you borrowed ours.

We stood around for hours in our connected driveways, supervising the boys. 

Sometimes we spelled each other. 

Sometimes we sipped drinks and talked, and made each other laugh. 

Sometimes, we miscommunicated. 

Sometimes, we offended each other without meaning to. 

But always, we hugged it out and talked and laughed some more.

Each time, we got to know each other better. 

Each time, we came to trust a little more. 

You know that I would feed and let your dogs out.  You know that I would watch your kids any time you need me to. 

I know you’d go into my house to turn off the oven or let the dogs out and feed them.  I know you’d call to tell me that my dinner guests’ car is parked on the wrong side of the street and is in danger of getting a ticket. 

I know you worry about my dogs when I’m away.  I know that when you find something at a yard sale you think I might like, you buy it for me. 

I know you would forgive my kid and dogs 1,000 times. 
 
So I hope you will forgive me.

Sometimes, we don’t have the chance to stop and talk.  

I’m unpacking groceries.  You’re shuttling Jack to an ice hockey game.  
 
Sometimes, it’s too unbelievably cold outside to loiter. 

Josh is nine.  He’s funny.
 
Nick is eight.  He can stand up for himself.
 
Jack is 11, big as 13, soft-spoken and good-hearted. 
 
We have different dogs from the two we arrived with.   

My father passed away in 2009. 

Our families have gone through tough times.  

You’ve been a comfort to me in the midst of mine.

Sometimes, I need to be alone.  

Sometimes, I need to be with folks.

None of us is easy, except for Phil and Ben. 

Do you know how hard it is to tell you that we’re leaving?

I love you.

We’re leaving.

It’s the farm thing. 

I don’t know why I need to live on a farm.  It’s not in my blood, it’s just in my heart.

I’m sorry I didn’t tell you last week. 

I was taking the groceries in and you were shuttling the kids to a game.  Or I was late to something and you were coming home tired from work.

I know you heard it from the neighbors. 

I’m sorry.

This is a love letter with tears on it.

We won’t have neighbors at our next place.  

Not because we don’t love our neighbors, but because it’s a farm.

Will you forgive me for not telling you last week?

Will you forgive me for making my family move?  (Josh didn’t want to.) 

The farm is only three miles away. 

May we come back and sip drinks and talk while the kids take turns jumping on your trampoline?

May we continue to go trick-or-treating with your family like we always do?

May we remain like family forever?  

The light on the fields to the south of our farm can be heartbreakingly beautiful. 

There’s a deck off the kitchen with that view. 

There will be a drink and two chairs waiting for you.

Our boys can climb up to the loft of the barn,

Where the roof resembles the hull of an arc upside down.

If we drink too much, you can sleep over. 

Mi casa es su casa. 

Mi casa es su casa.

Mi casa es su casa. 

Love,

Jess

 
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