“For everything I do that will tear at you, let me say I’m sorry now.”—Shawn Colvin
I’ve written you letters before, most often when I had something on my mind that bothered me, or when I was angry. I have not always shared them with you, however. Sometimes it’s best to get it down on paper and then keep it to yourself. Whether you give away your words or not, writing a letter has the potential to make thoughts and troubles so much more clear. This letter, you are going to think, is ridiculous. I can hear you saying, “Mom, it’s okay. I’m over it!”
Look, I’m the type to beat myself up; there’s no changing that.
The other day, I submitted an ad to your sister’s yearbook, one of those pages in the back where parents place pictures of the graduate as an adorable toddler next to the full-grown picture. I also wrote a poem. A poem! I haven’t written a poem since college. $135 later, after I clicked the “send” button, I felt the familiar sting I experience each time I recall that I never put an ad in your yearbook. Back then, I forgot to check on the due date for senior ads and, by the time I inquired, it was too late.
I still feel guilty about that. In the 2009 Franklin High School yearbook, there is no half- page dedication to you. No photograph appears of you at age three, wearing nothing but a diaper and mom’s cowboy boots, or of the one- year- old you wearing that crazy powder blue “mushroom” hat with your thumb stuck in your mouth. I never wrote the words that would always remind you of how proud I was, of how far you’d come.
Listen, I need to say these things now because someday you and Cliff and Olivia will be sitting around looking at your yearbooks when I’m dead and gone. The other two will be smiling at their $135 ads, and you will peer over at them and say, “Hey, how come I never got an ad?” You’ll be under the mistaken impression that I loved you less and that just isn’t true, not by any stretch of the imagination.
In my defense, you never told me the due date for the ads. You’re the one who sat in second period class listening to the announcements. Not me.
At any rate, given that righting this wrong is not possible, I decided to write something here in this very letter, that I might have written in your ad. Let’s see, it would have had to be something that would not embarrass you, words your friends wouldn’t throw in your face, laughing as you sat around the campfire at night drinking beer and smoking Marlboro 100’s. It would have to look cool so I would have had that picture of you with your skateboard. You know the one. I love that picture. Somehow I would have had to express in fewer than a couple hundred characters, how we felt about the son for whom we waited so long, the child we thought may never come because God decided to make it as difficult as possible. Or what it was like to hold you in my arms, wrapped up so beautifully like the present you were. How could I tell the story of you in just a few words? About every struggle and the triumphs that arrived after? About your handsome face, your gorgeous smile and hilarious, somewhere- out- of- left-field observations?
But try I must.
Maxwell James Taylor Class of 2009
We are so proud of you! Congratulations to our son and brother!
Love, Mom, Dad, Cliff and Olivia
Yeah, that would have been the whole thing, Max. I mean, let's be real--anything more than that would have had you tearing that page out of the book. Your friends' books too. I guess you’ll just have to read between the lines and appreciate the subtext.
PS. Please bring the garbage cans back in and don't forget to feed the dog.