Dear Ms. Feverfew –
Tomorrow morning, I board a westbound flight heading back to Utah. I haven’t been back in over two years which means it has been two blessed years of not worrying if I would run into you, your parents, your siblings, your friends, your teachers, your boss, your neighbor, your Young Women’s adviser, your Sunday School teacher, your ex-boyfriends, your current boyfriends, or anyone else that might recognize you in me.
It’s happened before – several times – and every time I am sent into a tailspin. Oh, those unknowing souls continue on unknowing; I don’t care to educate them that “this girl I know from [insert name of your home city] looks just like you, you two could be twins!!!!” is actually my daughter, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, fruit of my age-old mother pain. But I know. Boy, do I ever know.
So I am coming home tomorrow. The road from the airport to The World’s Best Sister-in-Law’s home takes me past your home. I wish there was some other way to get from point A to point B tomorrow, but there isn’t. There is no other way to get through but past your city that sits like a toll keeper into the valley, extracting a heavier and heavier fine from my heart with each passing year. I cannot even begin to tell you how many thousands of times I have had to grip the steering wheel, avert my eyes, purse my lips, and steel my heart against the upsurge of grief as I drive past. There, there beats the first chamber of my mother-heart…It feels like death by a thousand small cuts.
So I am coming home tomorrow. An expatriate, a squatter, a refugee in the shadow of the mountains I love. And I will do what I have always done for the last 18 years…drive right through your little town and after a sharp intake of air I will remind myself to breathe, just breathe. In and out, over and over. Breathe, just breathe.