I am a note person. I leave little scraps of encouragement and wit in the lunch boxes and have been known to stuff a love note or two into my husband’s wallet between the credit cards. I keep boxes of written evidence of a life well-loved and lived. Even the blog is really just a series of notes if you think about it. So next week, when I travel across the Atlantic leaving my husband and sons behind for a week, I will likely leave behind a paper trail. A popcorn string of thoughts, making sure that those I love know they’re loved.
Originally I was gong to write this and post it from the airport. How sweet, I thought, to have a little blog post full of all the things I love about my family for them to discover as I’m hurtling over the Atlantic on a wing and a prayer. Then I had a terrible, no good, very bad thought. What if something happened in the middle of flying across six time zones? It would be nice that my family would have a little reminder but what a terrible thing to be reminded of. Then the little evil blogger who sits on my shoulder, the one with the horns and the cape thought I bet it would go viral. Woman pens love for family moments before plane goes down sort of thing. And people would read it and get all teary and sentimental because well…who wouldn’t? But all those things, all those good things I feel for and about my family would forever be tied up in tragedy. Not good.
Why is it that the emotions we feel seem more poignant when there’s an emergency? Why do we wait until the last minute, when someone is about to walk out the door or call it quits, the towel mere seconds from being thrown in–to tell each other the important things? Not I love you so much as the reasons why I did and do and will continue to do so.
I don’t want my sons to learn their smiles light up my life because I left behind a letter to read in case of emergency. I don’t want my husband to discover my life would be gray and dull without him because of a note I left behind. I don’t want my feelings for the people in my life to be a post-script, a break-the glass scenario. I want them to know today. And yesterday. And tomorrow.
I am always heartbroken and broken-hearted when I read letters left behind by parents. They play and pluck on my heartstrings as expertly as a harpist. As a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, a sister, as a writer, I know I would do the same. I would be frantic there wasn’t enough time to tell my loved ones everything I needed to tell them. Everything from don’t forget to floss to make sure you listen out for the “I love you” that sings with every beat of your heart. Which is why it’s even more important to scatter their lives with those reasons in the every day. Not just for emergencies.
Maybe I don’t’ show it enough. Perhaps my love for my family gets overshadowed by the mundane, stuck on the bottom of a pan like so much baked on, caked on gunk. Maybe it gets lost in translation or in transit or in the spaces between. Those shiny things that make me smile or count my blessings, those things sometimes get lost in the Mondays, in the laundry basket, in between the cracks of the sofa. But I don’t ever want my family to hear about them in something that begins In case of Emergency.
So I won’t put them here.
This should be the post that goes viral, not the one stamped with tragedy, but the one tied up in life. The one that reminds us all to look to the left and look to the right and to tell the ones on either side out loud. The one that makes you remember that we have today, but not always tomorrow. In case of emergency shouldn’t be the reason, it should be merely be a reminder.