The day we left China–a bit more than 12 years ago now–I packed into the pocket of our laptop bag two invaluable treasures: one, the journal I kept throughout all the months of my falling-in-love and early married life with David; and two, my “tow truck letters”–small scraps of paper on which David had penned love letters to me with grimy tow-guy hands, a letter a day for all the months he had worked leading up to our marriage.
I figured the laptop bag would be with us in person the whole journey home, and didn’t want to risk placing those treasures in our checked bags. I packed with care.
Well, that night on the train from Zhengzhou to Shanghai, as I slept far too deeply, someone unwrapped the laptop bag’s strap from around my feet and slipped away into the night. We felt sure we knew who had done it: a man with whom we had shared conversation for hours (well, David had shared conversation in his faltering Mandarin, I’d just smiled and nodded, per usual)– a man whom we hadn’t trusted exactly, but whom, out of our politeness, we permitted into our space. He had been given ample chance to assess our belongings with a thieving eye.
When we arrived at our destination and realized what had transpired, David had to force me off of the train. In hysterics, I sobbed on the dark, deserted platform–emotions already in high disarray by nature of our home-going; feeling like my soul had been raped, feeling as if something had been taken from me that I would never be able to recover. And of course, I never did.
Ironically, the laptop was broken, badly broken. It was old, even in those years, and we were taking it home with the intent of removing the hard drive and recovering my favorite CD which was trapped inside. The thief obtained a broken piece of technology, a book full of romantic notions that he would be unable to read, and papers full of devoted English words. The entire record of our whirlwind friendship, engagement and marriage, gone with a thief in the night.
I crazy-wept to David, “I would have given him the laptop! All he had to do was ask! But the letters! The letters!”
I’m missing those tow truck letters today, for some reason. Some losses are still losses, no matter how much time goes by.
Maybe that’s not true; I wrote that last sentence against my Highest Conscience. The High Voice argues with me: ‘you have always thought that, Harmony. You have always thought of this as a loss with no reparation.’
I mull on this for a minute. Grope for a bit of honesty. Land on the age old “give it a good ending and it won’t feel so bad” approach.
‘Okay,’ I answer. ‘Maybe the man sold the computer for money to feed his family. Maybe in the spiritual realm good things happened? Or, I know, what if someone somewhere was blessed by the English words and maybe even found Jesus?’ (Visions of tow truck letters splayed in a gutter fill my mind. I push the images away.)
‘Or maybe,’ the High Voice says (it feels as though he places a gentle hand on my mind; I feel words, even if I don’t hear them, and I don’t push the hand away), ‘maybe you haven’t opened this hurt honestly in all these years. Maybe what you have experienced as a loss that is final is a loss to which I want to speak? Now? Here, Love, let me at your heart.’
Oh you blasted, maddening Lover. You who never relent. Yes, yes. Have at my heart. Again. Have at my heart and my mind and my story and do this thing that you do. No pain too small, no pain too great. Neither height nor depth nor anything else in all of creation. I remember.