April 3, 2003
Duly Noted
The Very Last *I Miss Jaymi* Entry This Week ... I Swear

I am standing in front of the bathroom mirror on Thursday morning, taking a quick final inventory before heading out the door to the office.

Hair: flat, messy, dull, roots are showing, desperately in need of a trim again ... but acceptable. It's not like I'm on my way to the Prom, after all.

Makeup: slightly more muted than usual. (There's no hiding the dark circles under my eyes this week: I'm going to just quit trying.)

Clothing selection: Early American Bag Lady. The weather has been weirdly unpredictable here in the East Bay all week long ... ping-ponging wildly back and forth between bursts of sunshine and bouts of rainstorm. Plus the air conditioning in our building has been on the fritz again: it was like a sauna in the Dirt Company office all day yesterday, like an Arctic tundra the day before that. So I'm not exactly sure how to dress today. Just to be on the safe side, I'm in top-to-bottom layers: light short-sleeved blouse and slacks, topped by light long-sleeved blouse, topped by ugly auxiliary cardigan sweater, topped by -- the fashion pièce de résistance -- the lovely suede jacket that Jaymi gave me for Mother's Day last year. I just got the jacket back from the tailor on Saturday: they sewed that middle front button back on for me, plus it looks they reinforced all of the other buttons at the same time. So this is the first time I've been able to wear my pretty jacket to the office in quite a while.

It looks really nice, actually. Plus it's going to make me feel closer to my daughter all day.

As I'm admiring myself in the mirror, I notice suddenly that the right breast pocket on my jacket looks suspiciously lumpy. Did I accidentally leave something in my pocket, the last time I wore the jacket? I don't remember. I reach into the pocket and pull out a tiny piece of blue paper, folded into quarters. A store receipt? A grocery list? A love note from the tailor, maybe? Mystified, I unfold the little piece of paper.

It's a note, written in Jaymi's distinctively round, girlish handwriting.

Hi, Mom! it says. I love you!

That's it. That's all there is to it. No signature, no smiley faces doodled in the margins, no P.S. at the bottom: just a sweet, simple declaratory statement of love from my kid. I am touched, and amused ... and baffled, frankly. When on earth did she manage to sneak a note into my pocket? We were stuck together like Color Forms for the entire weekend. Did she do it when we were driving to the mall on Saturday, maybe? She was sitting in the back seat, I was sitting in the front seat next to David with the jacket hanging on the back of the seat; maybe she quietly scribbled the note while we were driving, and then slipped it into my pocket while no one was paying attention. Or maybe she did it while I was sleeping, or while I was in the bathroom taking out my contacts, or while I was popping the Christmas video into the VCR.

Oh well. It doesn't matter when she did it, does it? The important thing is that she did it, and it's exactly the sort of thoughtful little pick-me-up that I need this morning. This has been a tough week -- emotionally, physically, professionally, financially, every way that counts, not just for me but for the world -- and I need all of the psychic reinforcement I can get right now. I carefully refold the note and slip it back into my pocket. I'm sure I'm going to be looking at it often today, as I schlog through Day #43,897,621 of The Project From Hell.

As soon as I get to the Dirt Company, I fire off a quick e-mail to her at her office. When did you put the note in my pocket??  I want to immediately acknowledge this spontaneous act of love and thoughtfulness and all-around daughterly grooviness.

Thirty seconds later, my phone rings.

"What note?" she says. "I didn't put any note in your pocket."

I figure she's yanking my chain here -- paying me back for threatening to set her up with The Main Nerdy Geotech Guy, maybe -- but after talking to her for a minute or two, it quickly becomes clear that she's as genuinely mystified by the whole note-in-the-pocket thing as I am. "I didn't put any note into your jacket pocket this weekend, Mom," she says. "I swear to god." 

It's definitely her handwriting, though. There's no way that either her brother or her sister could have written it. Eventually, we decide that she must have written the note sometime last year -- perhaps during her pre-Thanksgiving visit last fall -- and then she  forgot all about it. The note has lingered there in my jacket pocket all these months since then ... hidden, forgotten, biding its sweet time, waiting to be discovered, like a message in a bottle washed up on the shore ...

... until the very morning when I needed it the most.

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she got her contacts, by the way!