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Signs That We Were Here

Several years ago, at a time when I was feeling mildly disconnected from myself, I stopped by my brother's apartment to pick something up. It was a quick "dropping in" visit, but as I was leaving, I noticed something that nearly knocked me off my feet.


It was his whiteboard, propped against the kitchen counter, with a to-do list scribbled onto it. Rather than erasing items he'd completed or putting a little checkmark next to them, he had drawn a line through the entire item.


It was my father's whiteboard. I never understood that particular method of organization... crossing an item off a list on a board specifically designed with erasing in mind. But there I was, in my brother's apartment, both of us adults out in the world on our own, staring at a whiteboard with a line through it.


Recently, I was traveling with another family when I noticed a similar occurrence. While making tea and coffee in the morning, I was asked if I ever put cinnamon in my morning beverage. I did not, nor had I known of anyone who did.


Some time later that same week, I was surprised when, standing in the kitchen of this person’s mother, I saw that she had a bottle of ground cinnamon next to the coffee pot.


There is perhaps nothing to these little idiosyncrasies. A crossed off line on a dry erase board; a bottle of cinnamon next to a cup of joe. But seeing these familial ties passed down or up from generation to generation has warmed my heart for the past several days.


There is something deliciously sweet in the signs that we were here.


To know that we pass down not just jokes or memories… that we don’t just have their eyes or their smile or their laugh… that we can hold onto habits and routines and silly ways of doing things that remind us of home, or of the way things have been… feels almost sacred.


I am grateful for moments that remind us that we are here.