If anyone has any doubt about why I am trying to get this done, read this. I wrote this some time ago, and it was published in The Lincoln Underground, a literary periodical out of Lincoln NE.
A Purse Full of Memories.
I ran across your purse today, while rummaging through old boxes.
It was heavy. Still filled with touchstones that filled your life.
I felt the warm leather of the bag and the years since you’ve been gone seemed to melt away.
I gave you that dark brown, leather Coach bag, the one with the flap over the opening, on one long ago Christmas, because it fit you. Elegant, understated, classic.
You wore it well from your shoulder, even when you crammed more into it than it was built for, but it still looked good.
I opened it, and there were your glasses, your overstuffed check book, notes scribbled on scraps of paper containing names and numbers of people who once mattered to you enough to scribble their names and numbers on scraps of paper. For what reasons, I do not know.
I found the talismans, the crystal, the cross and the worry stone, you carried with you during those most difficult times of your life, and the hope you carried with you in that dark brown, leather Coach bag. There was also a card that went with one called, “The Cross in My Pocket.” I never knew if you read it, but I knew if you had, you believed in what it said.
There was a note, handwritten on a yellow piece of paper torn from a small legal tablet, that was a thank you note you were composing to someone who was very close to you and who had been generous and supportive during those dark times. I don’t know who it was intended for, but it could have been any number of people. The words were yours, and they seemed to come to life off the page.
There was a tin of mints from someone’s wedding in 2007, a wedding you were not able to attend. The decal on the cover read “Jim and Kirsten, April 21, 2007.
There was a pocket pack of Kleenex, like the ones you used to shred when the going was tough.
When I see that purse, I think of that snowy day in Minneapolis. We were there in early December for a doctor’s appointment of some kind, and we had an extra day all to ourselves.
You wanted to go down Nicollet mall so you could stop at Dayton’s, or Macy’s, or whatever it was called then, and go to Crate and Barrel for some Christmas tree decorations. Then we walked over to Hennepin Avenue, and found a restaurant we hadn’t been to before.
The lunch rush was gone, and we were pretty much alone there. We stayed as long as we wanted, drank some wine, had some flatbread with Asiago cheese and talked as if we had nothing better to do that day, and we didn’t. When we saw it begin to fill up again, we knew we had been there long enough. We left and began the walk up Hennepin to find our way back to the car parked across from The Loon Cafe on 1st Avenue.
It had begun to snow lightly. It wasn’t that cold, but the huge snowflakes made it feel as if we were part of some giant, ethereal snow globe.
You were wearing that black wool coat with your red scarf, and that dark brown, leather Coach bag hung loosely from your shoulder, looking every bit the city girl that day, out with her friend. I carried the bags from Dayton’s or Macy’s or whatever it was called, and the bag from Crate and Barrel, in one hand, the other held yours.
The snow continued to fall, but we didn’t hurry. We weren’t cold at all. I think we were both entranced by the scene that winter day in the city, as if we were playing the parts in some romantic movie, of two carefree lovers out walking on a snowy afternoon during the holidays who were in love, and didn’t care who knew it.
I don’t know if you ever thought of that day the same way I did, nor do I know if you thought of that dark brown, leather Coach bag the same way I did, but I like to think you did.
Both of them looked good on you.