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Taking Note

When my son was seven years old, he left me notes.

They were scrawled on multi-colored Post-it notes that he sneaked out of my desk drawers and then stuck to my desk, on my chair, and sometimes smack-dab in the middle of my computer screen.

You wouldn’t think that such tiny squares could be crammed with personality and feeling, but they were. With loopy exuberance, he shared his thoughts: “I can't wait to go to Atlanta with you!" He shared information he gleaned from the world: “On Monday, It’s going to be Clear Weather.” (Okay, good to know.)

Some of the notes were heartbreakers: "You're the best thing in the universe that's a girl." And some were sweetly importunate demands: "We are having CUTTLE [cuddle] TIME this instant!" (Yes, I'm on it!)

The notes accumulated over a year or two, a frame of joy and life around my computer screen where I'd transferred all of them, guaranteed bright spots in my day, sprightly color-kisses.

My son was not a quiet child by any means; his vibrancy and energy are now part of family lore. And he was unfailingly direct about his needs and wants. So, why did he feel the need to write down his thoughts? Was it merely attraction to the neon pink and green squares? Did he feel that the notes somehow elevated his communication? Or, more worrisome to me, was it otherwise hard to get my attention?

I do know why I treasured them. Receiving the notes was like receiving a rare handwritten card in these days of quick texts. They gave me the heartwarming knowledge that I'd been in his thoughts, and they carved a channel of connection between me and my small son.

Naturally and sadly, childhood presents as many last moments as first moments, and he stopped his note-writing as he got older. The Post-its gradually fell off my screen and were swept away with the detritus of life. (I wish, wish, wish I'd kept them.) One of the last I can recall: "Mom, how did you get to be so pretty and beautiful?"

Now that a decade has passed, I don't know if he remembers his note-writing or the contents of those notes — if so, probably not with the vividness that I do. To my surprise, though, he left a note — on a Post-it — on my desk during the week before he left for college: "Thank you for everything that you do for me."

And when I returned to my desk after dropping him off, I found the last one, a little marker of finality and moving on: "I love you."

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