Dear Iris and Nelle,
You never got to see all of the beautiful things that the world has to offer. You were robbed of that, just like I was robbed of you.
The landscape feels desolate now. It feels cold. Nelle – you left me as we were headed into Fall and the leaves began to change. Iris – you left me in the chill of winter. It is hard to know at this point whether spring with thaw me or not. Flowers have just started to peek out of the deadened earth.
I don’t know where I would take you in this changed world because I feel lost. What were my favorite places and who were my favorite people? I struggle to remember. The world now has a lot of hostility. The people around me are faceless; their outlines blurred. When they reach out, I am never sure if it will be in comfort or sharpness. Or obliviousness. Familiar places now feel foreign, like I don’t quite belong.
Our household is incomplete, without you here.
I know where I would take you… I would take you to the coulee. The coulee where I grew up and that still soothes me. Coulee, referring to a valley, comes from a French word meaning “to flow.”
We would all go there. We would sit beneath the sheltering tree where we have scattered your ashes. Last time, we went by ourselves, just your parents, to be alone with our grief. I sat and sobbed into the crisp wind until I couldn’t cry anymore. The sky was wide above us. This time, we would bring your brothers, so the four of you could sit on the warm earth together. Because we are moving into spring, the day would be warm. Your brothers ask about you sometimes, so I would like to give you a chance to get to know each other.
Then I would give you both hugs, because it is just a visit after all. You can’t stay with me, no matter how much I want it.
Eventually the unfamiliar will become familiar in this changed world. Eventually people and places will come back into focus.
For now, there is the tree. Gentle. Encompassing. Standing tall throughout the changing seasons. Guardian over your ashes. Always.
I love you both.