My cousin Arianna, mother to two small boys, shared a letter to her son Christopher on Facebook this week, and gave me permission to put it on my blog (I’ve edited it slightly). In the letter she records a micro-conversation that occurred at the grocery store. Arianna was in the checkout line with 11-month-old Christopher.
You will probably never remember the frail grey haired lady in the wheelchair, nor the sturdier but also grey haired woman pushing it.
You will also probably never remember the older woman’s eyes lighting up when she saw you, or her shaking, spotted hand, tiny and thin skinned, reaching for you in involuntary amazement.
“She looks just like my sister did, when she was a baby,” said that rusty, whispery voice. “Doesn’t she? Just like. What’s your name, precious?”
Then, looking to me, apologetically, “My sister died, when she was small, but I remember her, looking just like your girl. How old is she?”
“She’s 11 months old, ma’am. I’m so sorry about your sister, that must have been so hard for your family.”
“What’s her name? She’s so precious, just like sunshine.”
“Chris..tine, ma’am. And she’s a joy to our whole family.”
“My sister’s name was Helen. Helen Mabel. She’d have liked Christine.”
And with that, she was gone, wheeled away by her caregiver who had listened with a sad little smile, and said nothing. Our neighbour, who knows you’re a boy, and who was in the check out line next to ours, saw the whole thing and didn’t say a word.
Love and a bit of melancholy,