My mother used to take notes for me. For years: notes in my lunch box, on the doorstep of our home, on my bed when I came home to visit. The floor or bedside table was useful: So-and-so called; I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist Thursday; I thought you might be interested in this article (newspaper article). I don’t really remember what the daytime essay said, but it can quickly point to something else: a history test, a basketball game, an opening game that I have been rehearsing for a few months.
Every morning, he throws the note with a salami sandwich, a carrot, a bottle of apple juice, a piece of cloth that my friends make fun of. Even when it came to high school, writing was still there. I was a little embarrassed with them at the time, but not enough to tell him not to leave them and not enough not to read them. It was as reliable as a sandwich.
I knew, all the time, how much he loved me.
When my last boyfriend was falling off a broken pile in the early thirties, I remember telling my ex: Love is a verb. I continue to be confident about it. Love is not there, it is lifeless, it does all the work without effort; is shown, daily. Here’s another coffee. Let me rub you on your shoulders. You know, I’m so proud of you.
Recently, while studying meditation classes, Buddhist teachers recounted a story about a grandson who asked his grandfather, with whom he had lived for a long time, if he loved him. “Yes, I love you!” he said in astonishment. “Why do you ask?” “Well,” said the child, “but if you don’t pay attention, I don’t understand.” Clean care: this was a real way for this child to feel the love of his grandparents. I heard it in my mother’s scriptures. Some feel that a friend would send a text message or that a friend would walk with a dog at the end of the day. There are endless, wonderful ways to turn love into a verb.
I started putting notes in my son Noah’s food box, just as my mother had left me. In the past, we used to visit her every day, but daily moments are no longer a part of our lives. She lives all over the place, sometimes, and these days you’re suddenly full, and I’m sure she doesn’t want to bother me with phone calls and emails, and she won’t leave notes in bed anymore. I did not come home for more than two years, and the house I knew now had been sold. Also because they don’t know everything in detail; he could not possibly, all the very few events in life coexist. Nothing more to say about the size of lunch.
Therefore, I am writing to Noah, thinking of my own mother: Have fun at MONKEY BARS! Enjoy your PICKLES! Congratulations on the SPELLING TEST! Each sentence is meant to be shown to him, as I am shown on a daily basis: I see you, I hear you, I love you.
Abigail Rasminsky is a writer, editor and educator in Los Angeles. She teaches creative writing at the Keck School of Medicine in USC and writes weekly essays, People + Bodies. He also wrote about marriage, women and neighbors.
PS What foods do they carry their children to for lunch at school, and how to get your kids to talk at dinner.
(Photo by Victor Torres / Stocksy.)