January 24, 2016
This collection of words is a biscuit.
These paragraphs are here to sop up some of the leftovers now that my story about Hanna has run its course. Hanna’s influence and tangible reminders of our friendship are grafted into my daily life and therefore unavoidable—which is not to say they are unwelcome. But they do remind me that the story can never truly be done.
And so, if you have the stomach for it, you can read this postscript. This is my second postscript, and I am certain there will be others here and there. If you are unfamiliar with the story–if you are sick of the story–stop here. I’ll be none the wiser.
Lindy, our oldest, is out of our nest and lives in a tropical climate. She still has a couple of boxes here, and some of her things hang on a rod in the basement. Among her belongings is an incredible leather jacket she scored several years ago on Black Friday. She doesn’t need it, and she can’t part with it. Both are true.
Lindy has been after me to treat it with leather conditioner. I hope mink oil is the right treatment because I just spent the better part of an hour massaging it with love. This seemed a good occupation for a snow day with nary a plow in sight. When would I get to it otherwise?
I like to touch. I like to dig in the dirt, and I don’t care what happens to my nails. I hate wearing gloves when I wash the dishes. Once I got my hands coated with mink oil, I figured I’d better make the most of it. Out came all the leather goods I could find.
As I worked, I had plenty of time for reflection…
…which was helpful, since I found, in the back of my closet, amongst my scuffed shoes, my old red Schulranzen still stuffed with artifacts from Hanna’s and my youth.
I had to beg for this bag. I wore it strapped to my back, as was the custom. I packed it so full it took all my wiry strength to grab the tree limb, swing myself over the high fence, and bolt through the neighboring apartment complex to avoid getting caught taking the illicit shortcut on my way to and from school each day. You would have done it too! I promise.
I removed the articles crammed into the bag and cleaned it with care. I worked the fragrant fat into its parched skin as I thought about the Hanna and all that had gone before.
And here is the biscuit:
In the year following Hanna’s departure, we worked hard to understand its finality. It seemed impossible that we were really done.
One evening, when all five of us were under the same roof–Henry, Lindy, Bec, Claire, and I–the girls confessed their sadness and hurt. Aunt Hanna had stopped loving them, they quavered. They knew she had been fed up with me but they had never dreamed their aunt would cease to be their aunt. But Hanna, for the first time since their births, had declined to acknowledge them at all. Birthdays were the hardest. The girls were heartbroken and confused.
One daughter was quieter than the others.
Unbeknownst to us, she had received gifts and overtures of friendship from Hanna and her husband. The message, in short: You are the one who understands us. You are like our very own child.
Our daughter made her choice and told me later, offering little detail. Her kind but superficial responses had been calculated to skirt their need, and communication ceased.
I hadn’t figured on this spillage when calculating the possibility that time would, indeed, heal all wounds.
This is a biscuit.
For the Story of Hanna, please click here.