Dear Millicent,

It took me awhile to write back because your essay was just so durn lovely.  Isn’t it fitting that eggs are the food returned to? If your life were a novel, it would all be a delicate nod to the connections between mothers and children, continuance and nourishment.  Like how in Billy Elliot (lord knows why that movie has remained in my easy-reach library), he is drinking a glass of milk when he sees the ghost of his mum.  Also, I very much like your description of being down the hall, and want to say how honest and comforting and all around lovely it is. Lovely is a word that is appearing a lot in this paragraph, probs for good reason.

Architecture? Halls, doorways, well-lit paths? I am listening to a song at the moment called “Good Houses” that relates domesticity to “sweet cages.” And, with my friend who recently miscarried, the phrase that kept appearing in our conversation was “that door had been opened” for her, and that the room beyond was to be explored.  She is considering adoption.

Sometimes when I think about birth and death, particularly among female generational lines, I get spooked by thinking of us all as a series of husks (my grandmother the husk of my mother, my mum the husk of me, and me the kernel of the next husk).   We are Russian nesting dolls, all containing the younger, smaller, next things (I know this image is problematic, but it remains for me).  And, what seems a terrifying part of a grandparent’s death (especially the maternal grandmother), is that we get promoted to the next size up, and our parent gets bumped to the front line.

Both my father’s parents have died, his father with a surprise of cancer, and his mother after years of decline and saving graces (including a new kidney!).  It felt at about the right speed of what happens with grandparents.  My mother’s father died the year I was born (and she was on bed rest with me and couldn’t go to his funeral).  Her mother is alive, but her mortality is present, and when my mom calls and I don’t answer, I am afraid that the message will be the inevitable sad news about my grandmother.  I am afraid for my mother when her mother dies.  I think it will shatter something in her, maybe that teenage idea that mothers are silly neurotic creatures, and the loss will be its full weight.  I am also probably afraid for her because I am afraid for my own future moment of the same pang and pain, felt nakedly when the opportunity to give her honor has passed.  Our mothers alone, in the emotional hard parts, is tough, maybe because even our presence wouldn’t give them the balm needed?

I don’t know, dear friend, but I think being down the hall, as you have described it here, will be part of my definition for what real love is.  I can see the thought in my own brain in sixty years.

Besties,  and yes, chirpier things tomorrow,