I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott Read Online (FREE)
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I Miss You When I Blink
It’s the perfect sentence, but I didn’t write it. My six-year-old did.
I was sitting at the desk in my home office, on a copywriting deadline for a client in the luggage industry, wrestling with a paragraph about suitcases. I leaned forward, as if putting my face closer to the computer could help the words on the screen make garment bags sound exciting. My little boy lay on his belly on the rug, “working” to pass the time until our promised walk to the park. He murmured to himself as he scribbled with a yellow pencil stub on one of my notepads.
“. . . and I miss you when I blink . . .” he said.
It stopped me mid-thought. “Say that again?”
“I miss you when I blink,” he answered, and looked up, pleased to have caught my attention. He turned back to his notepad, chattering on with his rhyme (I miss you in the sink . . . I miss you in a skating rink . . .). When he ripped off the page and tossed it aside, I picked it up and pinned it to the bulletin board on my office wall.
I turned those words over in my mind while I folded laundry that afternoon. I thought about them while I brushed my teeth that evening. I repeated them to myself as I lay awake in bed. I said them out loud as I sat in traffic the next day. I miss you when I blink. I thought, How cute.
Over the next several months, I saw the note on the wall every time I walked into my office, and the phrase lodged itself in my head like a song lyric. I played with the words when I had writer’s block, tossing them about like a squishy stress ball. It would make a great title for a sappy love poem, I thought, one where the poet can’t stand to lose sight of his lover even for a split second. Or an album of goodbye songs, dedicated to a time or place that’s disappeared. Maybe a country ballad about a lost hound dog. The one that got away. Anyone could be the “you.”
It was a few years later when it occurred to me: You could even say it to yourself.
We all keep certain phrases handy in our minds—hanging on hooks just inside the door where we can grab them like a raincoat, for easy access. Not mantras exactly, but go-to choruses that state how things are, that give structure to the chaos and help life make a little more sense.
A friend of mine uses “not my circus, not my monkeys” a lot. It helps her ignore her instinct to get involved in things that aren’t her business, and it also makes her remember that people have all sorts of reasons for the things they do, many of which she’ll never understand. It’s useful for both behavior modification and acceptance.