Sunday, February 1, 2009
What I've Kept - Rachel Debaere
I’ve kept the pink shawl the love of my life made for me, though I haven’t worn it in thirty years. I’ve kept the blue jeans my son wore when he was 18 months old – now he’s 18. I kept my daughter’s navy blue Laura Ashley dress, the one her godmother, Ruth, gave her. I’ve kept the stories intact, as they were told to me, and now get told differently. I’ve kept the old versions because I believe they might be more true. I’ve kept my wounds and receipts. My joys seem to fleet. I’ve kept my hopes, my determination, my love for old friends, my grief. I’ve kept my distance. I’ve kept my genetics – in their full looming doom, diabetes, depression and auto immune disease. I’ve kept my eye color – they say my brown is dominant, but I didn’t pass it to a single one of my kids. I’ve kept my uterus, my eyesight – barely, my kidney – though it’s on a list if someone needs it, bone marrow too. I’ve kept my scars. They’re like maps of me – the headboard of my bed, the sharp lid from the tomato can, the searing iron, the scissors, the malignant mole, spider bites, tearing during childbirth. I’ve kept the legos, the art work from preschool and the Babar music box. I’ve kept the photos, need to organize them someday. I’ve kept my thoughts to myself, held my tongue, and I’ve kept my books – all of them. And though I don’t remember what they’re about, who wrote them, they’re part of my identity and so I can’t part with them. When I give one away about every week, I go buy it again. I’ve kept the dog, the cat, my husband, the children, other people’s children. I’ve kept songs in my head, the same ones I never know the names to. I’ve kept my integrity at the grocery store, on the witness stand, on the mountain. I’ve kept my tan into winter and my mother’s young-looking skin. I’ve kept my white hair, haven’t tried to cover or hide it. I’ve kept hope that I will always cherish my husband. I’ve kept my wits about me in emergencies, my own and those of others. I’ve kept the Sabbath, once or twice. Most of all I’ve kept my love for my grandmother who made that shawl for me. I will always keep that.