This Song of Mine…

This weekend I went home to Marin for my half-aunt Allison’s baby shower. (You might be wondering how I have a half-aunt — my grandfather got remarried and had kids in the 1980s and the result is that I have an uncle and aunt that are younger than me.) My father, sister, and I are quite excited about Allison’s baby because it’s the first positive thing to happen to our family since my mother’s death. The baby is especially optimism-inspiring because Allison was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma four years ago and though she is now cancer free, we weren’t sure she would be able to conceive despite the shot she’d gotten to shut down her ovaries during her chemo treatments.

The evening before the shower, my sister arrived at my father’s house with her friends who had driven her home from the airport. When she came to greet me in the living room she handed me a small card with a drawing of a teapot on it. “I found this card mom gave me when I was going through things. You should read it. It will totally make you cry. It’s so beautiful.”

mom's card

I opened the card…

                                                                         12/11/03

Dearest Vanessa,
As I sat tonight looking at the beautiful book you gave me for my birthday, I realized that I didn’t tell you much I LOVE the LOVE book. I am reading it each day as part of my meditation. There is one poem I love:

This song of mine will wind its music 
around
you, my child like the fond arms of love.

Sadness gushed up inside my chest and I closed the card. Beneath the grief was a nagging jealousy that my mother had written a card like this to Vanessa and not to me. I remembered the LOVE book Vanessa had given my mother — hardcover, expensive, about 700 glossy pages. I had cynically never opened it. I went in the other room to join the others.

The trip home lingered on. I took my grandmother to dim sum in San Francisco. I watched Django Unchained with my father. I went for a hike at China Camp and saw a large king snake on the trail. Then one evening at 1 a.m. when I couldn’t sleep, I remembered the card. I assumed my sister had gone home with it.

I went into her bedroom and turned on the light. And there it was — on her nightstand, leaning against the lamp! I picked it up and took it to my bedroom.Mom's card

                                                                          12/11/03

Dearest Vanessa,
As I sat tonight looking at the beautiful book you gave me for my birthday, I realized that I didn’t tell you much I LOVE the LOVE book. I am reading it each day as part of my meditation. There is one poem I love:


This song of mine will wind its music

around
you, my child like the fond arms of love.

This song of mine will touch your forehead
like a kiss of a blessing

When you are alone it will sit by your side
and whisper in your ear, when you are
in a crowd it will fence you
about with aloofness.

My song will be like a pair of wings
to your dreams, it will transport your

heart to the verge of the unknown.

It will be like the faithful star overhead.
When dark night is over your road.

            ~Rabindranath Tagore 
             The Crescent Moon.

That is the way I feel about you and about Nicole –
you’ll know when you have children of your own.

                                                                              I love you!

                                                                                          Mom

I’d been wrong to believe this card was written only to my sister. This was a love letter to both of us, written at a time when my mother was fighting her second bout of cancer. Like a song, we could replay the words in this card when we needed a reminder that her love was still with us, guiding us at times even when we felt forgotten.

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2 Responses to This Song of Mine…

  1. Kathleen says:

    Thank you, my friend…thank you.

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