Archive for moving on

Love Cookies

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , on December 23, 2008 by 1writegirl

I baked sugar cookies with my son today. The only time he likes to help me bake is this time of year, when I get out the cookie cutters and we make tree and reindeer and snowflake shapes. The rest of the time I’m on my own, at least until it comes time to eat them, and then his willingness to oblige knows no bounds.

My mind wandered while sifting flour and measuring sugar to some little girls who, in seasons past, have been in my kitchen with me, ready and eager to cook, bake, clean up, anything. These little girls, offspring of a man I was in a relationship with for several years, are the collateral damage of break-up; the bigger part’s smaller parts that we hurt, lose, and miss by virtue of their connection to ‘the other.’ I couldn’t help but think of these little girls today with more than a twinge of sadness and wonder if they ever think of me anymore, and if they do, what remains of me in those thoughts. Or have they all but forgotten me in the six months – which is, after all, like years to an adult – that have elapsed since I departed from their lives, unwillingly and without advance notice to either them or me? Who told them they wouldn’t see me anymore, and what reason was given?

I glanced with tenderness at my own son, standing next to me blithely ignorant of my internal roilings, pouring vanilla into a measuring spoon. I would give and do anything to protect him from the dangers that lurk behind life’s hidden doorways, though I’m painfully aware that I’m helpless to protect him from almost all of them, especially as he gets older. I can’t shield my own child from harm, how can I shield someone else’s? He smiled at me and I was reminded of how much more resilient children are than their parents.

Later, my ‘new’ boyfriend called, to say one thing: I love you. I know as much as the next person that the novelty of a young relationship lends itself to extremes. I know the heights of passion, spontaneity and in some cases, even blindness, rarely last beyond a few months. But it isn’t just his newness that is different for me this time; it is the newness of his behavior. In my previous relationship, the one with the girls I became so attached to, not only did I almost never hear words of affection, I got to the point where I became afraid to utter them; it made my boyfriend uncomfortable, he said, to hear me speak of love: the implication of forever being too much an undercurrent he didn’t want to contemplate, let alone get used to.

So today my heart leapt when I heard “I love you.” It is no longer the equivalent of a bad word; it isn’t a weapon or a carrot or a source of embarrassment. It isn’t a stash to be hoarded, nor can it be used up. It is what it is: an expression of affection, affection that, for the time being, is powerful and honest and curative. I revel in the knowledge of its existence, in the momentary gift of its charm and the rebound of its echo hours later. Maybe I will be one of the lucky ones, for whom love doesn’t fade away as time passes and familiarity deepens. Whether I am or not, I think of those little girls, and hope the affection we shared together was sweeter than its loss was painful; I am grateful for the times I hugged them and kissed them and we said I love you back and forth; and I hope they, too, will be the recipient someday of a phone call to say I love you.