What You Don’t Know

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Please. Don’t open my drawers or look in my closets. Especially not under my bed. And no, not even in my freezer. You’ll find what I have hidden. Bits and pieces. Scattered in each room. Here and there. Tucked away. Out of sight, but not out of mind.

I keep her near me. But you wouldn’t know it. Secretly, I gather remnants of her and stash them away. They’re not just ‘things’. They’re so much more. A piece of her heart here. Her smile over there. Her laugh tucked into this. Her scent still on that. A necklace. Photographs. Birthday cards with her wishes written in that too familiar script.

A scarf. The one born as a labor of her love. She carefully chose the colors, knowing they were my favorite. She knitted her love and heart and soul into it, so that I would feel her warm embrace everytime I wrapped that scarf around my neck.

And then there’s the soup. In the freezer. Hidden far in the back, behind the frozen peas and ice cream. The soup she made. It’s full of creamy butternut squash and a dash of love, a splash of hugs, a hint of a kiss, a pinch of soul. She made an extra batch when she was here last Thanksgiving. She sealed it up, wrote the date and stashed it in the back of my freezer. So that on some cold and gloomy night, I might search for something to warm me to my toes. And find her there. In my freezer. With the date written in her too familiar script. I’d forgotten about it. And when I found it, it brought me to my knees. A frozen container of butternut squash soup. I may as well have found her very body in my freezer.

I put it back. I kept it there. Desperately, I made my husband promise to never throw it away. I even moved it from the old house to the new. And now it has it’s place in the back of my freezer. Among the frozen peas and ice cream. And when those moments come, the ones that feel like I’ve gotten kicked in the gut. The wind knocked out of me. The knife piercing my heart. When I miss her so much that my heart cracks wide open all over again, raw and oozing unadulterated sorrow. I run, I scramble, I crawl to the freezer. I hold onto that container of frozen soup for dear life. Cradling it, right there on the kitchen floor. Feeling her loving embrace and being warmed by the scarf wrapped around my neck.

That’s what you don’t know.

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