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Grade
10

Dear Ma,

            Your first grandchild’s name is Cassidy Elizabeth Dane. She was born this April, close to your birthday. She has those wide blue eyes and tiny hands and feet. I remember the first time her fingers found their way to mine, and she could wrap her entire hand around my thumb. Ben is overjoyed in his daughter. When he naps, he naps with her. She lays on his chest with her head resting on his shoulder, and there they sleep. She pulls this family closer together, and I realize why I have so many siblings. I’ll bring the family by on Sunday.

            Love, Alice           

 

Dear Ma,

            Cassidy insists that she dress herself everyday. She has this headstrong independence that I would never expect from a little girl. On her first day of preschool, she didn’t shed a single tear. I don’t know if she is just excited to learn, or if she is bored by me. I must admit she is so full of life and talent, I sometimes feel as if I can’t keep up. Already she loves to sing, and I hope that she will keep up with it. I know it is too early to tell what her future will be, but I can’t help but anticipate a musician in the family. Well, there’s always the second child… yes, you read correctly. I’m expecting again in the summer, and this time it’s a boy. Ben has already bought a basketball hoop. I think he gets a little bit ahead of himself sometimes. Who knows, maybe this baby will give him a shock and become a musician with his sister.

            Love, Alice

 

Dear Ma,

            Seth Benjamin Dane was born this August. Ben was thrilled to have a son. He wanted to pass on Benjamin as the first name, but I told him what I honestly thought; that it was tacky to name his son after himself. So we compromised. I wasn’t sure how Cassidy would react after being the only child for so long, but she loves him. She kisses his forehead and sings him a lullaby every night before bed. It reminds me of how Dad loved to sing. She runs around the house, with the hairbrush in her hand acting as a makeshift microphone during the day. It takes me back to those winter nights around the fireplace, Dad’s rich voice filling the entire house.  I suggested to her that she join her elementary choir and she liked the idea. She had her first class last week and is already looking forward to their performance in a Christmas program. I spoke with her teacher and she says that from what she has seen so far, Cassidy has potential.

            Love, Alice

 

Dear Ma,

            Things have been happening so quickly, it’s hard to visit. Cassidy is excelling in her classes, and there is even talk of her skipping a grade. I asked her how she felt about this, and she said that the sooner she could skip third grade the better. She’s excited to roll with the big kids.  Seth has started to play soccer. Imagine him and the other kindergarteners on those green fields fighting over the soccer ball. It’s all so endearing. To my surprise, he ended up with dad’s red wavy hair. Let’s just say I never lose sight of him because he is so easy to find in a crowd.

            Love, Alice

 

Dear Ma,

            Cassidy came home from school quite upset. She had quit choir. I asked her why, and she said it was because her friends didn’t want to do it anymore. I said if she loved to sing, she should continue, but she said it was no fun without her friends. I let it go, but what I really wanted to say was that these girls barely acted like her friends. But what was I supposed to say to her? She had a hard enough time fitting into the new class after she skipped third grade. The only thing that could make it worse was to be alone. I didn’t want her to feel any more insecure, so we had a family game night. She felt much better after beating all of us at Monopoly. I’m worried this isn’t the end of the drama. I need to tell her that if she doesn’t feel like she’s in the right group of friends, then it is better to be alone than to be with people who will not use their time getting to know you. That’s what you taught me, but maybe Cassidy isn’t ready to hear it yet.

            Love, Alice.

 

Dear Ma,

            I was called into the school today after an incident between Cassidy and the other girls. They had been taunting her, saying that they had convinced her to quit choir because she had a horrible voice. Even Cassidy should know that wasn’t true, but she lost control of her anger and punched one of the girls. Not hard of course, she’s only in seventh grade. The principal had not been pleased about the situation, and neither had I. First, I was angry with Cassidy. She should know not to lose her temper like that. Second, the school let this bullying go on long enough. What had they done except preach uneffective seminars? I lost my own temper, and to be able to make an acceptable agreement Ben had to come in and speak on our family’s behalf. I hugged Cassidy and reminded her that she only had one more year of middle school left. It reminds me of the time in sixth grade when Martha was tripped on the playground by another girl, and I saw her from a classroom window. I was so angry that I walked out of class, onto the playground, and pushed that mean girl right back. I was suspended for a week, but we were the closest of sisters afterward.

            Love, Alice

 

Dear Ma,

            High school is a much better fit for Cassidy. Her classes are more challenging and thus interesting, and she has learned to play the guitar. She doesn’t have a large group of friends, but they make a big enough impact. They took the school talent show by storm when Cassidy and one of her friends performed a duet. It won them first place. This didn’t instantly win them popularity, but they found their confidence. I admitted to Cassidy that I loved seeing her this way, and she agreed. She even said that she was taking choir back up again. Everything is perfect, Ma. It reminds me of that day that dad came home, announcing that he had been promoted, and that he would have a proper raise. You took us all out for ice cream cones, but Martha dropped hers. All dad said was, “No worries, we have money now,” while buying her a new one.  

            Love, Alice

           

 

Dear Ma,

            They found it in me. It was just a checkup, and I expected to be grocery shopping the rest of the afternoon. Instead, I was called back for more tests. They came back positive. I was afraid to tell Ben. How was he going to act around me? But how could I keep this from him? When he got home from work, I sat the kids down in front of the TV and pulled him aside. After I told him, he kissed my cheek and told me he loved me, as if I ever doubted. I have cancer.  The words still taste odd in my mouth. Cancer. That word, it seems like it should not belong to me. It is not a word to describe me, or something that would be a part of me.

            What did you say when they told you? Did you stare blankly into the eyes of the doctor, wondering if he was speaking to someone behind you instead of you? Did it feel unreal, like you were part of a soap opera? I remember when you told us about the disease, you were calm, and so we were calm too. Teach me to be the same way for my children.

            Love, Alice

 

Dear Ma,

            I’m having surgery, chemo, and radiation. The works, ma. You would be amazed at what they can do now. Their machines are bigger than life. They whirl and scream, waging war against what’s inside me. The medication is a stunning red, and I don’t think I’ll be able to look at that color the same way anymore. They say we will put up a good fight. Every year, we fight harder. One of these days cancer will discover it is the one fighting the losing battle. But for now, I’m tired.

            Love, Alice

 

Dear Grandma,

            Mom is too sick to write. She asked me to write this to you and tell you that she will see you soon.  I wish it weren’t true, but the doctors have confirmed that she has maybe a week left.

You were dead before I was born, but my dad says you and my mom are alike. I wanted to tell you how proud you should be of her. She has been incredibly brave through this entire cancer  journey, and she has done so much for me.

I remember those days when she would take us to the graveyard, and we would stand by your tombstone. She brought you roses, and told us it was your favorite flower. While she ruminated about her memories of you, Seth would inevitably wander off, which I found rude. I never considered that maybe he was afraid that one day he would have to speak of our mom like a memory, like she did about you. I never understood that until this week, but now I get it.

 I’ve never read these letters, and I don’t know what she has said about me, but at one point in my life I was insecure. I let my so called friends push me around, I let them make decisions I would have never made otherwise. They talked me out of singing. Did you know, grandma, that next fall, I’m going to music school? What if I had listened to those vicious girls? My identity would have died there. But mom, she kept me alive. She’s the reason I’m going to sing for the rest of my life, and I wanted someone...anyone- everyone to know that. Her life has saved mine, and to think that hers will end before her time just seems unfair. Did cancer chose her? Can it do that? Of all of the people in the world, it choses my mom. Mom said she will give you these when she meets you in the next life. Is it selfish of me to say I hope you don’t read this for a very long time?

 

            Love, Cassidy

State
MI
Zip Code
48197