Fridge Magnets

You can arrange them any way you choose, make the words your own, make a statement like nobody ever has. We bought them at a garage sale, for a dollar fifty in a ziplock bag. ABC fridge magnets, like I had as a child. Just seeing these colorful tools elicited such memories, evoked such deep feelings that I nearly cried on the spot. So we bought them all up, and we took them home, and you spent the afternoon spelling the few words you knew with them on the fridge. You had to stand on a chair, but that’s okay. It was a special event.

We started to learn a new word every single day. Every day I would pick a new word for you, and you would learn to spell it in the morning before school. It helped, and you started to do better on spelling tests and building your vocabulary. Hell, you were even proud of yourself, which put an enormous smile on my face. So words became our tool, and I read to you every night, and sometimes you read to me, and we played word games and used words to make eachother laugh and learn. You started writing your own short stories and sharing them with me, and the morning of your 7th birthday, I used the magnets to spell, “Happy birthday, sweet baby! I love you!” and all was well.

“Mommy, what does t-e-r-m-i-n-a-l spell?” you asked.

I didn’t know how to answer, so I didn’t. I told you I didn’t know. You didn’t believe me, of course, but we didn’t push the subject. So we sat in the hospital room, you in the bed, growing weaker and weaker, playing scrabble and doing crosswords and word searches. I brought it all home with me, but couldn’t bring it back into the house. It was tainted by being attached to those last months. Much as I longed for a piece of you back, it was too late, and all I had left were the magnets. How unusually poetic was it that when I entered the kitchen that first day back, awake for 48 hours, the feel of your cold hand still in my own palm, my hair unwashed for days, that as I entered the kitchen, I saw you’d arranged them sometime before we checked in for good.

“Best mom, love you!”

I’ve refused to replace my fridge for years now. It barely works, and I’ve hauled it to a few new homes to boot, but I refuse to give up what little piece of you you left behind for me. People don’t last forever. But their words, oh their words last for a lifetime.

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, my podcast network “The Feel Bad Network” or my writing over at Medium. You can also find some published work for sale over at my Payhip.

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