The Letter by Cheryl Somers Aubin

To the new family I sent a letter about the house and our memories of living there for forty-five years.

I did tell them lots of information about the house that they needed to know. I gave advice about things to do. I was helpful.

Photo of a large moving truck
Moving Day; it’s Snowing by Jo Zimmy Photos. CC license.

I did not tell them how heartbreaking it was for us to move our mother to a memory care facility —her new forever home.

I did tell them we’d been happy. I did tell them about the bleeding hearts that grew by the side of the house and seeing a star-filled sky at night.

I did not tell them about the kiss with a boy outside the breezeway door one summer. The boy that made me swoon, the kiss that attached me to that boy who was not right for me after all.

I did tell them how my parents met, how my dad was proud of his days in the Navy, how deep their love was for each other. How they had been married sixty-three years.

I did not tell them about the night I wanted to run away. About the words my parents hurled at me. I did not tell them I cried as I wrote this.

I did not tell them I tried to figure out how to reach the pine tree outside my window.  If I had been able to climb down, I did not even know where I could have gone.

I did not tell them how long it took for our relationship to heal.

I did tell them that one Christmas eve I cried at dinner as my husband and I told my family I was pregnant. Tears of happiness flowed from everyone.

I did not tell them my father died in the living room with an aide asleep on the other side of the room. We did not know he was so sick, so our time with our dad at the end of his life was taken from all of us.

I did not tell them I dream of the house still. That I can walk through the house, up the stairs into my bedroom and down the stairs into the kitchen where mom and I made Christmas cookies. I did not tell them that I wonder if my mother dreams of her house, of our lives, our memories etched on the walls.

I did tell them I wished them many happy years of love and laughter in their new home.

I waited to hear back.

Perhaps in their letter to me:

They will tell me they love the house and are making their own family memories there.

They will not tell me they should have checked the stairs before they moved in—that none of them realized how steep and narrow they are.

They will tell me that their girls share the room at the front of the house, my old room.

They will not tell me about changing out the wallpaper, or how expensive and difficult it was to remove the popcorn ceiling in the whole house.

They will tell me they all have such fun in their new home.

They will not tell me they cannot get the smell out of the basement no matter what they do.

They will tell me their girls are playing sports.

They will not tell me that they are playing different sports than I played or that their daughters would never, ever do Girl Scouts, as I did.

They will not tell me that they gave the bookcase my father made away, because in the end, they did not want it.

They will tell me how pretty the bench is that we left for them under the Poplar tree.

Photo of blue mailbox
Mail box by Kenneth Buker. CC license.

They will not tell me that it is too buggy to sit out there on it.

They will tell me they love the yard and the garden.

They will not tell me that they ripped up all the flowers my mother had planted because they did not like them.

They will tell me in the letter that they appreciated hearing from me and getting all the helpful information.

They will not tell me they do not want to respond. They will not tell me they are not interested in keeping in touch.

They will not tell me that I am the past and they are the future.

They will not send a letter.

There will be no reply.

Cheryl Somers Aubin
Cheryl Somers Aubin has been writing and publishing for over thirty years, and her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online journals. She has an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University and is the author of The Survivor Tree: Inspired by a True Story. Cheryl is the former nonfiction editor for Delmarva Review, teaches memoir writing, and is a featured speaker at book festivals, writing conferences, and workshops.

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