I rarely share these letters because the point is that they exist only between us. Katie and I have been writing letters since the winter of 2019; capturing life, love, and the world as we see it. They have carried us through heartbreak, the pandemic, my pregnancy and motherhood, her move across the country, and so much more. There are few things in my life I value more than this friendship and our correspondence. For whatever reason, I felt like sharing today’s letter writing with everyone.
I have a moment. It’s funny how we think a time will go. All the things I imagined doing with him this summer. I never went to the hot springs or to blue lake. I never took him to my favorite spot to swim along the river. It has felt as if I am constantly waiting for something and trying to catch up to something else. What we did do was take long morning walks to see the blonde horse down the road and eat lunch on the deck and learn nearly to crawl and how to growl. I measure time by his habits and the length of his legs against my body.
There is a fire on the mountain behind us. Today the threat feels to have passed us but the past two days were spent watching planes and helicopters scoop water from the lake out front and fly off. I can hear the chop of their blades even when they are not near. We sleep with the sprinklers on and our shoes near the foot of the bed. We are ready if we need to be ready, for what exactly, I can only imagine.
Today is our last day here for the season. Summer comes on too slow and ends too quickly. Did I do enough? Did I enjoy it enough? Did I love him enough? Was I watching? Was I present? What will I remember? Separating sardines on his little plate. Mosquitos on my neck. The squisk of mud between my toes as I wade into the lake after it began to drop? The moonlight through the cathedral windows? It felt as if there was a constant full moon this summer hanging just above the treeline.
Reading your letter again and I am reminded of those early painful postpartum days. But, also it reminded me of when you came up here to see me last winter. And how on that first visit you went outside and cleared a path out the back door and down into the front yard, stomping down the snow with your boots, making a trail for me. I remember that you gently insisted that we go outside, that we walk this tiny trail around the house just once. That it would be good for me. I remember how monumental that felt at the time and how without your hand to guide me that I would have just stayed inside. I remember you were right and that in a lot of ways it was the first steps toward my real healing.
My life since then, up here, has been a slow widening of that first path you made. Moving outward from the safe space inside, carrying him with me. I hope next year I can take him to more places, but for now I feel I went as far as I could on my own.
The fire isn’t going to come down the mountain. The lake is going to keep dropping. We will pack up and leave tomorrow afternoon, only to return in the winter once again. I wish you were here. I hope I can come see you soon. Perhaps this is what friendship is, clearing the path for one another when we need it most. Until then, I’ll keep writing.