The desk in my living room has a voice of its own.
Don’t worry, I haven’t awakened into a ‘Disney’ production where bookshelves teach me how to make the perfect Belgian waffle. I’m referring here to a miraculous kind of happening that reminds me of a movie I watched a long time ago: “The Love Letter” (Hallmark Channel – 1998) tells the story of a young couple who fall in love even though they live 100 years apart. They ‘meet’ and communicate through letters that travel back and forth within their shared desk (an antique for him by then). It is a touching tale of feelings that span time and geography. A lovely reminder that the heart knows not of human boundaries…
…Friday, October 15. 9am sharp. The doorbell rings. It’s here at last! My mother’s old secretaire –and most cherished piece of furniture- has ended its long journey across the Atlantic Ocean and a sea of customs paperwork. As it gets unwrapped, a hint of blue catches one of the movers’ eyes: ‘This has just fallen out’, he smiles, as he hands an unmarked envelope over to me. My heart races. My hands get clammy -only yesterday I was fantasizing about getting a message from my mom. The stuff that only happens in movies- I take a deep breath, open the blue sheath with trembling fingers, and take out the card. A cute little lady is carrying flowers and a ‘Happy Birthday’ message: “My loving thoughts are with you today, sweet Maryse…” My mother wrote these words for my 2009 birthday and forgot to mail them. My sisters who emptied the desk in Brussels confirm that they never saw the card. It must have slipped inside the wooden shell and found its way out for a perfect delivery. Not an old bill, a wrinkled photograph, or Christmas wishes to a friend. A card addressed to ME! Blessing the day her precious desk arrives in my home, whole and ready to start its new life in America. Blessing me. I’m floored. I’m touched beyond belief…
…Saturday, October 16. 3pm. My son rushes into my bedroom, victorious. He just spent long minutes on the floor, mirror and flashlight in hand, de-tangling a silver chain that was stuck in the secretaire’s front right leg. It is intact and it turns out to be the perfect match for the diamond heart pendant that’s sitting in my jewelry box. My dad’s gift to my mom to celebrate 25 years of happy marriage. How can it be? How can a lost chain hide in a desk, cross the ocean, and reappear as a special gift to me the day before my parent’s wedding anniversary? I’m now sobbing. My heart is bursting with gratitude.
There was always a special bond between Maman and me. Mostly silent as she was not prone to emotional displays. Her apparent distance made me doubt her love many times, and her passing last May left me feeling lost and abandoned, as her dementia never gave us a chance to voice all the unsaid. It’s hard to describe the healing power of her note: It’s a love letter from Heaven, much dearer than if it had been left for me while she was still alive. Mysterious yet familiar forces have brought it to my safe keeping when I need it the most. Its magic transmutes infinite grief into eternal hope. It sings, “Be free. Be happy. I’ve always loved you and I’m with you still.” The comfort that wearing her heart pendant with its original chain brings to me is beyond words. I am not abandoned. I am full of her love for me. Yes, a desk has been talking and giving to me and will be doing so for the rest of my life as I stay connected to my mother’s spirit who’s writing the most beautiful tale of affection and support.
Maman’s secretaire has a life of its own. This is no romance movie. It’s the true and never ending story of a love journey hallmarked in both her soul and mine. It’s my story.
PS: ♥ October 17, 2010. Chers Maman et Papa: ‘Joyeux anniversaire de mariage!”♥
Maryse G. Copans © 2010