I bought her a locket yesterday for Christmas. It’s one of those silver keepsake hearts you get at Things Remembered. I always wondered who buys things from there. The jewelry is cheap and the gifts from there seem so sappy and sentimental. But there I was, getting what seemed like the perfect gift. And I thought of all the other gifts I’d bought her the last several Christmases—practical and meaningless—and how silly they seemed now. And as we paid the woman who would engrave the heart-shaped thing with the words “Always in my heart” I stepped out of the store and cried.
You need the backdrop of gravity for a cutesy little trinket to seem valuable and important.
The Dallas sky was bright last night. The thin blanket of clouds were illuminated by the full moon behind them, like a wide and lovely lampshade. And I sat on her back porch and smoked a cigarette and looked at the reservation. The proud trees set dark and bare against that storm white. And I could hear the soft swish of cars. And the sharp, brief bark of a coyote. The quivering, dumb owl hoot.
It hardly ever feels like Christmas in Dallas. Except in the malls.
Tomorrow we’ll bring her the presents she got in the mail and we’ll read her Christmas cards in her hospital room. We had been afraid this wouldn’t happen. We’d been afraid the boxes and cards would sit in her house and be forever unopened.
We’ll sit together and eat the familiar holiday food from tupperware containers that C will prepare and that we bring from her house. The familiar holiday food I’ve eaten all my life. The familiar holiday food she used to cook.
And this will be my perfect gift.