Train of Thought: Glass Heart

Johanna Klaiman

To the woman who inspired me to write,

I cannot pretend that I’m not mad at you. There have been days where I’ve ransacked my whole room searching for a glimmer of the glass heart you gave me. Other times I go through photo albums and that children’s story you once wrote. I know that you are still there, only a few hours up north sitting in a cabin overlooking the trees and foxes. Every Tuesday you still drive down the street to your dad’s house and see how he’s doing.

I often times sit around on the couch imagining you walking through my sunny living room and leaning towards my toes as you cackled at me, calling me your heart, calling me your Yobo and your Johanna Rose. I try not to let other people call me that, but I don’t want to let you claim me. I want to still grow up and find someone else to hold me. I think I might be even more worried what it means to be your entire heart, I too often wish I was only a sliver of it or not there at all. You can’t stop caring for someone who so fully cared about you.

When I was nine I went to the library and checked out Princess Academy by Susan Hale, I read it all in less than five hours and the next day started my first ever novel. It was a near copy of the story I’d just read. Each character was named after a flower and I had you read it once I had filled up the rest of my english notebook from third grade with it. You immediately told me that I was going to become a published author, I believed you for a while.

The next year I dragged you to my fourth grade open house. I had you read my story about a French girl called Genevieve, whom I named after the dog in Madeline’s Rescue. You stood next to my favorite teacher and told her I was going to be a famous writer when I grew up, I was already there. My teacher said she agreed which made the statement even more true.

You had so many features that made me fall in love with you. I think what first hurt me was when you left. You weren’t going far. You were planning on moving so you couldn’t pick us up from school anymore. I did cry for a while but I think I cried harder when you came back for a bit and then left for a second time, that time you actually moved up north because you wanted to work with other children. Children that weren’t me but that you told me wouldn’t ever replace me.

I came up to visit you one summer. We picked berries and made jokes about movies and ate eggs in a basket. I rode around in a pickup truck for the first time. We stopped talking when I got back. I raved about your pinto beans for the months following that summer.

I talked to you a few months ago. I invited you to come down to see my school’s musical that I was in. It was a kind of common courtesy after over 16 years of knowing you but I just assumed you’d tell me you were busy. But you did come, you brought a friend with you who left during intermission because she didn’t like the show. I saw you afterwards and you gave me a hug before saying you were glad to see me. Then you said you had to get back home and you left. I guess I didn’t do that great of a job in my show.

I want you to know that I still write, I still write a lot. I’m actually looking at colleges that have majors and concentrations in creative writing. I get paid to write too. You wouldn’t know that, but honestly, I’m okay with that. I still see your teeth every time I describe someone’s smile, and, when I need to write about a flawed mother figure, I think of you every time. I know you’d want me to keep writing. I guess I just wanted to say hi, and I suppose thank you as well. Thank you for loving me. Thanks for still loving me even though sometimes that love is really hard to feel. You taught me to look for inspiration in the small things and to always unconditionally love others. These skills have brought me the most in my writing. My heart gets broken often and intensely. I read way too far into smiles and handshakes. I’m constantly searching for more. I like to think you don’t still impact me. But when I jump over cracks in the sidewalk it becomes so clear that it’s just not true. I’ve written my best poems about you.

I love you,
Johanna Rose