A reply to: A letter from Mel
I’ve boxed up a treat for Gari and Zee and sent it in the mail. No need to wait for the birthday, though! These little guys will want to get out as soon as they arrive! I selected four: two ducks, one Bubba bear, and one cat. All but the cat are made of soft rubber. The cat’s made of vulcanized rubber. The ears feel good to bite on–not that I’ve ever bitten vulcanized rubber ears, I’m just saying.
They’re all from that organic, fair-trade toy company, so the rubber is natural, and even the dye is organic and biodegradable. Everything’s eco-this, eco-that. Get ready for fun.
I want to thank you for writing me back so quickly. Your timing was perfect.
I got your letter right around the time I had a really tough letter to write. I mean, maybe the toughest letter I’ve ever written.
Before I wrote back, I talked with Ira. I sat with Aari. I talked with my uncle Jasper. I did some research, and I thought a lot. Then I got your letter, and I knew I could write my reply. I knew I could level up, take the high road, and write the letter that had to be written.
Now that I’ve sent it, I feel relieved. I don’t know if I said the right words, and I don’t know if my letter will help. But I stepped up as a friend to a guy who’s in a tough spot after doing some bad things.
Ira says she would’ve understood either way: writing him back or not writing him back. Then she said some things about what it’s like to have me as a friend that made me feel pretty good. I’ve never thought of myself as anybody who had anything to offer anyone. I’ve got to admit: It feels good knowing at least one person is happy to have me in her life. And it feels even better knowing it’s the person who makes me happiest of all. That would be Ira.
You mentioned you’re curious about her, her daughter Aaradhya, my sister Meadow, and my uncle Jasper. I will love to tell you about them! Of course it’s not crossing a line.
I think of you as something bright and positive in my life–you make everything better, like a new dishwasher. That sounds… not so exciting. But for me, an engineer who’s always looking for eco-this, eco-that, my new water-saving, low-electricity-usage dishwasher is the best thing next to my popcorn maker!
Point is: You’re this bright spot in my life that makes everything better. Of course I’ll love to tell you about the people in my life. I just hope I don’t bore you to sleep doing so! I know I’ll go on and on.
Aari is something wonderful. She is very smart. She loves doing math equations. I’ve started showing her simple algebra, and she takes to it naturally. She’s got a logical mind.
I wish you could see her smile. I swear: the room gets brighter.
She gets a little sad sometimes. She had a rough few years before her mom took her and left her dad. Ira told me that Aari’s dad never hit Aari. But Ira has scars from what he did to her. I imagine that things like that scar a kid on the inside.
Sometimes when she’s sad, she likes to sit with me. We don’t say much. We just sit until she feels better.
Now and then, she has a tough time at school, when the noise and other kids’ yelling gets to be too much for her. She lashes out sometimes. We’re working on it.
The main thing, from what I’m learning at this support group I go to for partners of people who’ve experienced domestic violence, is to hang in there with the person. Don’t take their words or actions personally when they’re triggered. Just be there. Don’t give up on them.
It comes easy to me so far. I’d do anything for Ira and Aari. I’ve decided that even if it gets tough, I’ll level up, best I can. They’re worth it. I’m lucky I’ve got this group, my uncle, and my sister. And I’m so lucky I’ve got them.
My sister Meadow, by the way, has just decided to go back to grad school. She’s already got a PhD, but she wants a practical degree. Her other one’s in folklore. I think I mentioned that. Anyway, my sister started volunteering at the transition home that Ira and Aari used to live at. It was Ira’s suggestion. So, Meadow’s been leading art classes. And now, she wants to be become an art therapist, combining art and folklore.
My sister has always been about helping other people make their lives better. That’s why she adopted Jena. My niece Jena is smart, and she loves to talk about super heroes. Huh. I just realized that Aari is Jena’s cousin, in a way. Maybe we’ll make it official sometime.
My uncle Jasper is a character. He’s an old hippie, beatnik, retired college professor. He’s read just about everything and synthesized it all into his own version of the meaning of life. I don’t mind. I listen. It’s the questions he asks that’ll get you.
I saved the best for last: Ira.
What’s there to say about her? She’s everything. She listens. She questions. She encourages.
She worked as a barista when I first met her. But she stopped that job. She’s thinking about becoming a teacher. She’d make a great one.
She’s got the gift of making you feel like you matter. It’s not just with me: She does this for everyone.
The best thing is she makes me happy. She seems pretty happy herself, too.
So how’s it all going in your life? Zee and Gari doing OK? Have you tried anymore painting? Ira and I both love to paint.
And how about your neighbors? Are they acting more neighborly?
Anybody who knows you is lucky to know you.
And I’m grateful to be your pen pal.
Take care–and let me know what the kids think of their package!