Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Cards & Envelopes

Photo by Ranurte on Unsplash

A woman named Brooke Styche posts on Instagram as @almosteverydaypoetry and I love what she writes. 

She recently posted a poem that took my breath away, that took me right back to December 2010:

The stack of Christmas and sympathy cards on the table
wishing us a merry
a sorry for,
sending us comfort
and joy--

I hang holidays on the ribbon in the kitchen,
want to tuck heartache in a drawer
for after gifts and stockings,
for after what should be--

but in their envelopes, I cannot tell them apart.

I remember wanting desperately in the midst of my blackest grief for everything to go back to normal. I couldn't possibly have a normal Christmas. I couldn't possibly feel like celebrating anything at all. But I wanted to feel that way, and I was afraid I'd never, ever feel that way again.

I still haven't learned how to tuck heartache in a drawer, how to fully compartmentalize happiness and sadness in separate spaces. I think the trick is to let them mingle, to know that the only flavor that tells you you're alive is bittersweetness.

I don't think there's anyway I could have known how life keeps growing around pain, if you let it. How love fills in so much of the hurt, while still always leaving a place for the one who is missing.


Today is my friend Julie's daughter Anna's birthday. I don't feel like I should write about other people's stories, but Julie posted photos on Instagram today, of her pregnancy, and of Anna, that were so beautiful they took my breath away. 

I look at Julie's photos, at the delight in her pregnancy and the devastation after, and I am confident of one thing: If love were enough to keep these babies alive, they'd be here with us.


I was thinking a lot about Sandy Hook yesterday. I could write about gun control and fear and post a gorgeous Kate Baer poem about what it feels like to send your babies to school in a country that thinks owning guns is more important than protecting children, but I was also thinking about how any day is someone's worst day. How each morning, we can't tell by the outside of the envelope what kind of day is opening. 

How terrifying it is to love so much and be so vulnerable. To know that our children go out in this world and all we want is for them to live their best lives and also please, please don't concuss yourself on a park bench while sledding or fracture your spine slipping off the uneven bars or breathe in this virus that won' t go away or step out in front of that car going way too fast in a residential neighborhood. 

If love were enough to keep them safe, they'd all be here with us.


I'm wishing all of us comfort. And joy where we can find it. May all your envelopes hold holiday cards. 


  1. Another gorgeous post, Brooke. Thank you so much…

  2. Yes to all of this. Just left our lawyer's office, E signing her advanced directive, durable power of attorney docs for healthcare and finances. Something about sitting there in an office where the unimaginable is tossed around in various articles within documents like the three of us aren't sitting there trying to keep the words wholly separate from any images they conjure up... afterwards thought I'd get the car washed, sit in the sun for a moment, catch up on a few blogs for the new year. Love is vulnerability, through and through.