Not long ago I found a letter my youngest aunt, Aunt Dickie, had written to my mom. My mom was going to be the maid of honor at Dickie’s wedding. It was 1949. My mom and dad were already in Colorado, not yet married a year. Both my mom and my aunt were in their late 20s.
My aunt wrote about her dress, how she’d conferred with “Mom” (my grandma) about whether to get long white dress or something she could wear later. The decision was something to wear later and Aunt Dickie described it in detail — gray wool shot through with silver threads. Aunt Dickie wrote about the apartment they would move into, the car she wasn’t going to buy, how she wanted to call my mom but long distance was so expensive. These were exciting decisions and she clearly couldn’t wait.
It was lovely to read but haunting. All of life stretched ahead of these two young women. I read the letter knowing how everything would turn out for them, the rollercoasters fate had prepared for both. It tore at my heartstrings.
As time fulfilled itself, my mom was a complicated person, our relationship fraught and impossible. My aunt was a resolute and grounded woman who saw with piercing clarity the situation I was in and loved me.
When we talk about the baggage of life, it’s usually not good stuff, but some of what we carry is love. Love is not only weightless, but has wings to lift the heavier burdens from our shoulders.
* Time’s burdens — stolen from Baudelaire who, in his poem “Enivrez-vous” seems, in a way, to be answering Hamlet, but that’s maybe a story for another day…