The dead reach out to us. They grab, grasp, reveal.
They confess, giggle, plead, regret.
Listen to their voices (goodbye notes and love letters, photos and documents)
A letter from a man grieving his integrity, and the friends he lost because of his lies.
The 80th birthday celebration invitation-a photo of when Joe was in the army.
The form ketuba-with Hebrew names never passed on.
Sometimes the dead reach out with their own desperate handwriting. (Authenticated, verified.) Her words dripped with history and planning. She wrote how much she missed us and how sorry she was. She decided to die before she was called home. Or maybe she was called, and we just didn’t understand.
50 announcements of their new address to a home after dementia wouldn’t let go. Carefully designed with loving photos, and colorful hope of the next phase of life. Stuffed into envelopes ready to go. Never mailed.
The rushed and excited handwritten note to my grandparents from mom, carefully saved in a wedding announcement. “darlings, you won’t believe what I have to tell you!”. (“Don’t forget my handwriting” mom whispered to us across time.)
Silver dollars saved for decades from every Chanukah or special occasion. How many hands touched those gifts?
Why do they call it a safety deposit box? It took my throat and tore me open with aching connective tissue. Grandmother’s thimbles, the still relevant piercing words, the jade necklaces lying so beautifully on top of the old birth certificates, and the court decree of a grandfather name-change running from anti-semitism.
It’s not a safe box. Let’s call it the invitation.
Takes my breath.
I can almost smell you