February 18, 2007

Gift

It was still dark the other day when I drove my husband to the airport, dark and bitterly cold. The snowbanks along the roads, glowing white, rose so high that it felt like we were in a maze. As we came around the long curve near the high school, a spot where the wind usually blows drifting snow across the road, I could see great clouds of steam rising, billowing up from the darkness. A cop had just arrived, pulling his car in front of a spreading pool of water: a water main break. Aside from the cop, with his flashing lights, the road was deserted as we drove through the steam, the familiar landscape turned into this strange and eerie place.

I've seen a lot of darkness this February because I've got this knee injury that wakes me during the night. Last night, during the darkest part of the night, I kept thinking about how much I missed my smart, wonderful, beautiful daughter, who is so intuitive, who knows how to make me smile, who will hug me for no reason. When she was younger, she would often come and sleep in my bed when my husband was out of town, just to keep me company. She has been abroad for a whole month now, and that is by far the longest we've been separated for the twenty years of her life. We've talked on the phone and sent emails and instant messages, but I miss her physical presence in my life.

So last night, I was feeling lonely with both my husband and daughter away, and in the middle of the night, when everyone else was sleeping, I wandered downstairs, thinking perhaps I'd make myself a snack. The boys were asleep, Boy in Black on the couch, and the other teenagers rolled into blankets on the floor. When I peered outside the window, I could see snowflakes falling against blackness. On cloudy nights, you cannot see any stars.

My husband had given me flowers before he left town, and they were on the table in a vase. As I stopped to look at the flowers, I saw a small package, addressed to me in what was, unmistakably, my daughter's handwriting.

It seemed at first, to my tired brain, something that could only happen inside a Harry Potter book. My daughter, on the other side of the ocean, had magically sent me a gift in the middle of the night? As I looked at the postmark, I realized that of course it had come in the mail. The mailbox, out at the end of our long driveway, had been buried in a snowbank. My boys must have shoveled out the mailbox late at night, after I'd gone to bed, and then dumped the mail onto the kitchen table.

Inside the package was a present for me: a hip scarf to tie over my pantaloons when I was belly dancing, blue-green gauzy material with dangling coins that would make music when my body moved. I held it in my hands, shaking it to make that tingling noise. How wonderful to have something my daughter had picked out, a gift she had touched with her own hands just a week or so ago, a physical connection.

With the scarf was a note in my daughter's familiar handwriting: "I hope your February doesn't suck too much. I love you."

Gift

29 comments:

Jane Dark said...

Such a lovely story. I guess in some ways I'm glad you didn't get the package earlier; clearly you needed it as a middle of the night surprise.

BrightStar said...

Add thoughtful to the list of adjectives for your daughter!

Kyla said...

That was such a perfect moment. There you were longing to be near her and a tiny piece of her arrived by mail just at that very moment. Poetic. Beautiful.

BeachMama said...

That is a very beautiful moment. Thank you for sharing with us and I hope it makes February not so dard and dreary after all.

kate5kiwis said...

wow jo(e)
my nose is prickling.
my eyes are prickling.
i love those moments when life seems darkest and then
BAM!!!!!
a little ray of sunshine bursts in to the middle of the night.

PPB said...

I think you should keep her.

Linda (FM) said...

She's an amazing woman! What a beautiful scarf.

listmaker said...

What a lovely story.

julieunplugged said...

Where is she? Gorgeous scarf. Made me think of Morocco.

I have a 17 year old daughter and feel the same way about her. Beautiful writing.

jo(e) said...

She's living in London for the semester. (She is twenty, and it's her junior year in college.)

Scrivener said...

What a thoughtful present. And what a lovely photo of it, the close-crop is nice.

susan said...

Perfect timing on the sending, and the opening. May you jingle in love!

julieunplugged said...

Junior year. Wonderful. My husband spent his jr year fall in London and I spent my junior year in France. Seems like the right thing to do. Happy for her and you.

And fun that you and I are the same age... and so is Barak Obama! May 45 year olds rule the world. :)

jo(e) said...

Julieunplugged: I too spent a semester in London my junior year in college. My daughter is living in a flat within walking distance of the flat I lived in. My husband and I are going over to visit her over spring break in March.

Oh, 45-year-olds definitely rule! I noticed your age because so many bloggers seem much younger than us. I often feel soooo old when I am reading blogs ....

KLee said...

Maybe it *was* some sort of "Potter-esque" kind of magic that the package was "delayed" by being snowbound in the mailbox until the time that you needed it the most. Your daughter may not have planned it to the minute, but your gift was definitely designed with your winter doldrums in mind. What a thoughtful person she is -- and you're the damn good mother that raised her to be that person!

Patti said...

How beautiful! Some of my friends and I are starting lessons in June.

timna said...

soon it will be March and you'll be on your way there (though I'll miss you at 4C's... but I'll have my daughter with me this time!).

jo(e) said...

Patti: You are taking belly dancing classes? Oh, I bet you will love it. It's so much fun.

Timna: Yes, next month, I'll be visiting her -- I can't wait.

I will miss my CCCC friends -- I like that conference -- although I am going to AWP in Atlanta next week so I might see some of them there.

Yankee, Transferred said...

She's terrific. I'm so glad you have each other.

zelda1 said...

You are so lucky. I long for some kind of connection with my daughter. I'm lucky to have a close relationship with my son, but I miss my daughter, the one that I once knew.

Amelie said...

What a lovely story. Maybe my mom missed me in this way, too, when I went abroad. I did miss her, and I do miss her now. It was always wonderful to get mail from her, or send something to her.

Lilian said...

Oh, this brought tears to my eyes!! But then again I was already feeling like crying, ever since I read your comment over at Laura's blog. I have to confess I was really startled by it, 'cause I didn't expect it. I hope it's just another effect of February, like you said, and that you feel better soon. You are such an inspiration to me and to so many people!!! (I could go on and on about this...)

oh, and I'll soon write a post about a previous post of yours, the shower one. Just a commentary on houses here in the U.S. and Brazil. I'll let you know when I post it.

liz said...

Oh, Jo(e), I'm all verklempt. Your daughter is so nice! And I love that blue scarf.

I, too, hope that your February doesn't suck too badly.

ccw said...

So beautiful!

Marie said...

Lovely. I love what this says about your relationship.

David said...

Wow, here through the Thinking Blogger awards from So Fast Away, and I make photos and belly dance too. Cool.

cinnamon gurl said...

Wow, here through the Thinking Blogger awards from So Fast Away, and I make photos and belly dance too. Cool.

cinnamon gurl said...

Sorry, david is my husband, I am cinnamon gurl... bit of a blogger snafu there... thought I could delete the comment from his name, but now I can't. Gee, great first impression, eh?

jo(e) said...

Cinnamon Gurl: I admit that when the comment came through, I thought to myself, "Someone named David who belly dances?"