As I ran off into the school building, I turned to wave, and saw a small dark-haired girl with a pale complexion standing at the gates. I watched her hand my mum a small yellow envelope.
I wiped away a tear and when I looked back they were both gone.
Three years after Mom died, on a typical snowy Helsinki evening, I found this letter in her personal effects. HP
Dear Mrs G,
Hey! Whadda y’know? It’s HP’s first day at school!
Aww, sad, isn’t it? Watching the little fella running along, turning around and waving at ya, a tear in his little blue eye! So sweet.
How d’you think he feels, huh? Excited? Happy?
Looking forward to making a loadsa new friends, I bet, right?
Wrong! He hates it and, right now, he hates you.
He thinks you’ve abandoned him; he’s in disbelief, he’s terrified and lonely in there.
And you wanna know the kicker, Mrs G? For him, all the days are gonna be like this!
Every single one. Now, there’s a heads up for ya! He’ll never get used to it.
He’ll always hate school.
“But hey, chin up kid, you’ve only got another eleven years to do!”
It’s easy street for the little squid. huh?
So, anyway, that’s the skinny, whadda y’gonna do? Them’s the breaks.
What? Alright, alright, quit snivelling. Jeez, look, I can help you; I’ll cut you a deal.
There might be two conditions in his adult life where he’ll feel similar to today.
He knows nothing of them now but maybe he’ll meet divorce and serious illness at a later date? Who knows, huh? Maybe you already know their work?
Although they’ll feel very stressful at the time, he’ll have grown emotionally and will be able to deal with them. Probably. Believe me, Mama G, they pale into insignificance against the decade of misery and pant-wetting torment you’ve got lined up for him here in this hellhole!
OK, OK, don’t get your panties in a bunch because…spoiler alert! He never gets married and gets knocked down by a snowplow in Finland! Jeez, I’m having too much fun here! Phew!
Anyway, it’s not all doom and gloom, here’s what I can do for him. How about I arrange a peaceful school life for him, with no bullying, no failed grades, no mandatory showers after PE.
Sound good to you? Of course it does!
Naturally, you gotta help me out too. No such thing as free lunchbox, am I right, sister?
A word in your shell-like first, please, if you don’t mind…
Listen, HP’s only young now, but you can see he’s a good kid, right? He’s gonna be OK.
I don’t really need to help him at school, he’s bright enough and he’ll get by. Kid’s as soft as putty though and I will have to step in to stop Daniel Dixon vomiting Kitkat in his mouth in year ten. Maybe.
Home won’t be such smooth sailing for him and you know why? You.
You and I are gonna make his hell life home, sorry, home life hell. I always get those two confused. Beg all you want, I can’t change it; that’s just how the cookie crumbles.
You’ll lock horns all throughout his childhood, you’ll dance an endless tango of distrust and misplaced designs. It’s gonna be hard and they’ll be long moments when you won’t see eye to eye.
But he will always respect you, know matter what, because you’re a great dancer, Mrs G, one of the best.
Oh yeah, I nearly forgot, there’s just one other thing I’d like you to do.
It’s so simple, even a mother could understand.
About thirty five years from now, you’ll be on your deathbed. Oops! Spoiler alert! I love my job…
Oh I know, I know, boo fricking hoo. It. Happens. Anyways, listen up, HP will be at your bedside a few days before you pass away.
You’ll want to tell him that you love him but by that time you won’t be able to speak.
He will tell you he loves you but you won’t be able to reply.
I need you to promise me just one thing.
When you hear him say “Mom, I love you…I forgive you” I want you to squeeze his hand.
That’s all, just that. It’s all you’ll be able to do.
But you squeeze it hard, woman, I mean it. Really make it count, because he’ll carry that moment with him and remember it the rest of his life. Capisce?
Of course, I’m gonna need your signature; no souls or crossroads this time, honey, it’s not that important.
If I could ask you to turn your attention to the dotted line at the bottom of the page.
Sign it, Mrs G, you know it makes sense. Oh and have a nice day, y’all.