Dear Love

Dear Melinda,

It’s been a while. A lot has changed since we were in second grade. I’ve fallen in love a few times, in different ways. I’ve said some “I love you” and said some “I love you too” and also kept some of them silently to myself. You know how it goes.

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Dear Old Flame

Dear Old Flame, 

Do you remember how we first met? It was an impromptu double date. One of your roommates was trying to hook up with one of my best friends, and my apartment was off campus. I pierced my nose that night, just for the fun of it, and you stopped by for an hour or so.

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Dear Papa

When the breeze blew cold, the sun shined bright and the room was filled with tears of happiness, you were holding a little girl in your arms. Your arms that were warm enough to cuddle her in that rainy and chilling July. Your fingers that lingered over her head and a kiss you planted on her forehead.

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Dear Francois

Dear Francois,

I’m using the names we picked for ourselves in French class all those years ago because technically I’m not even supposed to be thinking about you. It’s been nearly two decades after all, and I’m supposed to have grown up, moved on, and all that jazz. Well. I am married – happily, I promise.

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Dear Miss Marshall

Dear Miss Marshall,

I still dream about the band room at Paul Revere Junior High, even though more than sixty years have elapsed. I can see you now, sitting at the cluttered desk in your little office. The new school had just opened and my mother insisted I join the band, even though I had been playing the clarinet only a few months.

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Father Figure

You remember your father’s fingers curling around the head of your new born baby. They are long, the nails rectangular and pared, clean pink and white, like the baby. Her head fills one of his hands and he uses the other to cradle her body neatly to him.

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SecretsJulia NusbaumComment
Indulge Me

When I turned fifty, I made a video about that age. It included a status report on my body and mind — how both were doing. I documented my swollen joints, brown and white and pink spots in various places on my skin, and grey hair. Thirteen years later, I still have all those things, joints, spots, hair, in close to the same condition.

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SecretsJulia NusbaumComment
Velvet Theater

I have always been terrified. Jumpy. Unsettled. Waiting. Expecting something to go wrong. The scariest place for me has always been my own mind—its ability to morph something ordinary into something terrifying.  

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SpookyJulia NusbaumComment
Haunted Sleep

The problem with sleep paralysis is that no matter how much you know about it and how easily you can dismiss the things that happen as a side effect of coming out of REM sleep the wrong way, when it’s happening it can still feel like a ghost is attacking you. 

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My Cemetery

Officially, I do not believe in ghosts. Unofficially, I eat that stuff up. If someone has a ghost story to tell, I want to hear about it. Tapes of ghostly words? I’ll listen! (heart pounding, head under covers). Pictures? Yes, please. It is perhaps true that I have seen every episode of Paranormal State. There’s a nostalgia to my fascination with ghosts, I’m sure of it.

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SpookyJulia NusbaumComment
A Wink and A Smile

My midlife crisis arrived like a midnight locomotive a decade later than expected. I gazed at myself in the mirror and realized it was time to face reality. I looked just like the woman who had given me advice all my life. Make room for Mama!

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Everyone’s Neighbor

 A well-worn path leads straight to the back door of my ninty-eight year old neighbor, Rose. When my family and I were planning a move to the area, she was the first person I met. Earlier that day she had returned from her final visit to the doctor who performed her hip replacement surgery.

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My Lifetime Warriors

“I am Woman.  Hear me roar, in numbers to big to ignore...”

How very blessed I was to be eleven years old when Helen Reddy launched her emphasise anthem, to the world.  With her pageboy haircut, knitted vest and high waisted flared jeans, she was everything I aspired to be.  However, it was the lyrics of her (now iconic) song which captured my imagination the most.  Women across the world were uniting, and Helen’s song became their theme song.

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Your Grief Doesn't Matter

My name doesn’t matter. It’s not as if you’ll remember it anyway. My name could be Finn or Lotte. Kate, Marissa, Matthew, TJ, James, Victoria, Adam, Grace, Ashley, Claire. We are not mothers. We are not fathers. All we are are brothers and sisters. Siblings. We are the forgotten mourners and those left behind in the wake of a child dying from cancer. Our grief does not matter.

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Over It

It was a good thing.

No, in fact, it was the best thing that could’ve happened.

I know that. 

I was in an abusive relationship—eighteen years old—and the stick said positive. 

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GriefJulia NusbaumComment
Help Now, Grieve Later

I am cutting potatoes for my visit to Sunnybrook hospital. I’m making potato and leek soup. It is full of minerals and fits the food restriction list for those undergoing chemotherapy. I hope he likes it, I hope it brings nourishment and love. 

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The Wisdom of Grief

My Facebook feed brings me an Orca carrying her dead baby, her tears spouting upwards, salting the already salty ocean. I am like that Orca, carrying my bundled grief, attached to my heaving chest, refusing to let go. The sudden loss of marriage, child, parent, even as I came back from the brink of death, has become my bundled grief. I clutch it, like that bundle of celebratory baby shaped rice that the Japanese mothers handle with so much care, as it is supposed to hold the child’s future.

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Perfect A

Every now and then old memories appear when you least expect them.

Fastidious footsteps on the pavement leading to Painter Hall on the historic campus of Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi. You’re late. As you take the brick steps and walk towards the door, your mind falls back to a time when Santa Clause was a real man who slid down chimneys with tons of gifts and life was centered around nursery rhymes, coloring sheets and recess. 

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GriefJulia NusbaumComment
Mixed Marriage

There are great concrete buttresses at my back holding up a lantern of light in the church behind me. I’m sitting on concrete steps, staring at one resilient weed working its way through a crack. Little survivor.

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GriefJulia NusbaumComment