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A Note on Certainty

September 24, 2020 Leave a comment

Lately, for obvious and not so obvious reasons, I’ve been thinking about certainty. That feeling of deep knowing in your bones, with all the trimmings of cliché. I’ve had moments and situations in life where I’ve just known things, without a solid reason why. Call it intuitions or feelings—doesn’t matter. It’s nebulous. And that witchy little spider sense is never wrong.

But I’m not talking about that kind of certainty. When I was cleaning over the weekend, I found a note that my mother had written me, thanking me for making her birthday wonderful. As I might’ve mentioned in the past, she wasn’t fond of her birthday, so that was a Major Win. It was two years before she died, and I’d made a strawberry shortcake (my best friend and I did, actually) for the first time. It was almost a disaster cake, but it turned out spectacularly, even if we did have to staple a pastry bag to pipe on the writing.

…right, where was I? Ah, the note. I didn’t remember that note was stuck in a pile of papers I was sorting through, so it caught me off guard. It made me tear up, because…man, I miss her. She was never stingy with her affections, and she would tell you in no uncertain terms how she felt, for good or bad (remind you of anything?). And my whole life, I had that kind of certainty in an uncertain world (although, much less uncertain than the current insanity we find ourselves in).

Finding that note made me think about how much I cherish that. It made me realize how much I thrive on knowing that I matter, that something I did matter, that someone cares a certain amount—just because they do. I’m not particularly difficult or demanding person. But words do matter to me, because certainty matters to me.

I’ve been in too many situations where I’ve felt horribly uncertain. Even when I, to the best of my ability, tried to wrangle things into a better place. I’m completely upended by doubt sometimes, because my brain can be a jerk—and, frankly, people have been unkind. And there’s something particularly unsettling when a handful of people you’ve cared for deem you too much or only like you in halves or just…don’t fundamentally understand you. The world is full of people who only show up when it’s convenient. I’m not that kind of people.

Sometimes, I apply a filter to things that come out of my mouth, and sometimes, I do not. If it’s within my power to show kindness, I do. I make time for those I love without question or hesitation, even if I’ve just been crying over a note I found. Even if I’m having A Day. I talk too much and I say all the things, because what if that’s enough to turn a day around? What if what I’m saying matters?

I often joke that I love writing poetry, but if all I ever did was love people fiercely, it would be enough. And the trick is…it’s not really a joke. I mean that. I spent a lot of years trying to rein in how I care, to make it smaller and more malleable, easier to manage. I was never less me, but perhaps a little quieter than I otherwise would’ve been. And I’m actually still pretty mad about that, but that’s neither here nor there.

So, today, I’m still thinking about the gift my mother gave me—and how, even now, she somehow reminds me to stay true. There’s nothing wrong with making people feel appreciated and seen. In fact, it’s everything—even the smallest heap of words or thoughtful gesture can mean the world. After all, I still have that note, tucked away.

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