The cat is my witness

Dear My Love’s 11-year-old Daughter,

You came to be with us for a week last night. You seemed happy, excited even, when you arrived, and I sensed you to be more comfortable and yourself around me. After supper –pizza!– your dad was in the kitchen cutting watermelon and you were in that little middle room by the huge chat noir poster. Right there, under the big cat’s watchful eye, I went to pass you and with barely the hint of something only possibly and distantly related to a thought, I let my hand touch your shoulder and then your hair as I kept walking, letting my arm and then my hand and then my finger linger as long as possible but only while still moving so as not to draw anyone’s attention –certainly not yours and probably not mine either– and then you, oh my god, you came along, the tippy tips of our fingers connected by some kind of wish-glue going on a year in the making until we were both in the kitchen standing by your dad. Hi!

That happened. The cat is my witness.

Later, in bed, I would start to tell your dad about it, and then stop short. (How he hates when I do that, and who can blame him.) Did it embarrass me that I would feel so moved by such a small tenderness, surely unnoticeable to anyone but me? Did it embarrass me like it had embarrassed me the countless times before when I’d reached toward you and you’d unmistakably pulled away? All The Literature would tell me that all of that is understandable, expected even, but The Literature had done nothing to comfort the something in me wanting more than anything to be family even while never ever wanting to force it.

This is me not forgetting. And this is me making space on the blanket of this cobbled-together mutty family, right next to all the missed connections, and just to the side of all my longings, and next to the bowl of a thousand tears, this: a touch, so come-and-go quick you might say it never happened, and the beat my heart skipped in spite of my best efforts at nonchalance.

You have no idea how much I think of you.


Not Your Mother

About elisabethwithaness

Writing out loud at Apropos of Nothing
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