a match made in heaven

The other day I dropped a box of kitchen matches down an opening I didn’t even know existed in the back corner of the windowsill. My heart jumped into my throat as I heard the whoosh as they slid down a crevice to which I was sure there’d be no rescue. In that split second, I told myself they were just matches, keep your cool woman.

Except they weren’t just matches. That box of matches above is older than the babysitter I interviewed today. That box of matches were his matches. The first time I saw them was in his apartment in Astoria where I cooked my first meal for him in June of 1995. Apparently we don’t didn’t use a lot of matches because that box of 250 matches moved from Astoria, Queens to Cobble Hill Brooklyn in 1997, and then a few blocks down to Carroll Gardens in 1999.

When I moved in November of 2011, less than three months after Michael died, I packed the matches. And when I moved again six months later, those matches came along. Those matches brought birthday candles to life over 17 years. They cast a glow to romantic dinners for two, which soon blossomed into family dinners for four.

All that flashed through my mind in the split second when I realized they fell. It explains why I had to choke back tears. I forced my arm through an opening meant for a mouse—literally. My fingers fondled something that felt like a glue trap, and I jerked back, wondering what the hell was wrong with me. They’re just matches.

But they’re not.

I went in again, this time trying to avoid the sticky trap.

No luck.

Before resorting to ripping up the wooden antique windowsill, I took a deep breath. You don’t need them anymore. They’re just matches.

But they’re not…

So I grabbed the metal tongs hanging on a nail above the windowsill. It took a few tries, but I managed to push the top of the box up through the crack in the back of the ledge. It was a beginning. I had the top at least, that would suffice, right?

No.

So I prodded a few more times, and let out a sigh of relief as the bottom of the box peeked through the crack. That should’ve satisfied my insanity at this point, but it didn’t. A few matches fell out during this whole episode. I could hear them trickle to the floor like a slow drip. I needed to make sure one special match was still in the box.

After Michael passed away, I don’t remember when exactly, I reached into the box for a match. I plucked out two that had been fused together by whatever it is they coat matches with to make them light. I know, nice technical explanation, huh? I smiled when I saw those two matches below stuck to each other. It reminded me that for as imperfect as our relationship was at times, we really were a good match overall.

matches02

And so, every time I reach for a match, I always pick over those two, and choose a single solitary one. No breaking up a seemingly happy couple if I can help it. As you can see, the matches survived the fall. They plunged into the depths of darkness, but remained together, much like our relationship during its 17 years. I’m working on believing that they’re just matches.

But right now, they’re not.

Music Pairing: I Want Everything by Cracker

life, Mikey

Comments

  • Kim Tracy Prince: Oh, sweetheart. I get it. They’re NOT just matches. I would have done the same thing.

  • Selfish Mom: OMG Jennifer, you’ve got me crying over matches.

  • Ann: How funny that we attach such a lot of meaning to a simple object. I don’t think I’m superstitious, but I would have done the same too. That is so sweet that you have never lit the double headed match too.

  • Maria in NJ: gotta love a girl on a mission…what just goes to prove that “will” is a very strong character advantage….you got it

  • Cynthia A.: I agree with Kim, they are definitely NOT just matches.

    Looking at the box of matches made me think about all the light they can bring to so many things.

  • elissapr: I would have done the exact same thing…

  • Rose D. Frenchtown, NJ: They definitely were not just matches…

  • Alejandra: This was so beautiful—I would have also done the same.

  • Tracey Alvernaz: Morning Jennie,
    Oh, you managed to make me tear up again! How you do that, girl!
    We all care so much about you….
    Tracey
    Oh! Wishing you a glowing day, filled with a smile or two along the way.

  • Judy: So touching and sweet. They will never be just matches! I know I would have done the very same thing.

  • Andrea Merrigan: What a beautifully written post, it brought tears to my eyes. They are not just matches to you, treasure them and the memories!

  • Kim/hormone-colored days: You got them! You are tenacious. This is fabulous.

  • Isabel @alphamom: you’re right. they’re more than just matches. xo

  • Linda: I am glad to read that so many of us would have done the same thing and that there is a large group of your readers celebrating your success in finding all the pieces!
    This is my first time commenting on your site–though I’ve connected with many other posts and enjoyed your recipes–I needed to add my voice this time; treasure those matches. Often it is the everyday items that mean the most.

  • Caroline @ Pink Basil: This was such a sweet post :) I would have done the exact same thing I’m sure!

  • irene: what a precious post. most definitely a match made in heaven!

  • heather grounds: let them be the matches you need them to be! i know how you feel and do the same thing with different things with people I have lost!

    those matches aren’t just matches they light up your life in it’s darkest times and will continue I’m sure to do so : )

    xoxo

  • Julie: Some things are not just what they might seem to be at first glance. xoxo

  • Fredda: I was rooting for you to be able to get them the entire time I read your post. Totally understand, so glad they’re back, and how wonderful the 2 are together. It’s the little things :)

  • Nicki: Wow! From now on, I will be reminded of your beautiful and poignant posting every time I look at a match.

  • Alicia Sokol (Weekly Greens): Oh, how I can understand what you mean. We have to hold onto these special sort of things, even when it seems like they’re “just matches.” They’re so not! Thanks for sharing this sweet tale. You have such a beautiful way of telling a story…

  • Dana: My best friend in the whole world passed away when I was 19. He taught me how to play guitar. He knew all of my secrets. He was the boy who said that he would walk me down the aisle if I wasn’t walking down to him. Whenever the strings on my guitar needed changing, he would come over and do it because he was so much faster and more practiced than me. That guitar still has the strings on it from 5 years ago. I haven’t really played it since he’s passed. Sometimes I look at that instrument and think I’m being ridiculous. But I can’t bring myself to sit down and restring it.

    I’m happy you got your matches back.

  • susan: of course they’re not just matches. glad you got them back:)

  • Madeleine: What a beautiful story. Thank you.

  • Lenny: Your writing is so profound and always keeps me in touch with reality. As somebody said above, definitely a match made in heaven. The song selection that came to mind for me as I was reading this was Tears in Heaven for some reason.

  • Tara (aka Craftilicious): I totally get it. I only very recently threw away a blade of grass given to me by my first love – a blade of grass for goodness sake – but it meant something so I kept it – for 24 years…..

    I would have ripped the kitchen apart to get the paired matches back!

  • Amy: What you’ve written is beautiful.

  • Rocky Mountain Woman: ahhh… sweetie…

    hugs!

  • Mary: They are definitely not just matches. I rarely comment, but I wanted to stop for a moment and tell you that I still pray often for you and the girls. I’m so glad that your matched pair is intact and still safely tucked into the box.

  • Jenna | The Paleo Project: No, they’re not just matches. So much more.

  • Stephen: I have you in our blog scroll and came across this post. Your words moved me and inspired me. I immediately felt the urge to put a bit more imagery into our Easter ‘tease’ post. Thank you for making me stop and appreciate where a good storyteller and beautifully-crafted words can take you.

    I hope your day is amazing!

    Stephen

  • Laura: Jennie, I hope you write a memoir of your time with Mikey. If only for yourself. The beautiful words above need to be kept for the future. Your writing is so amazing, and I can feel your love for Mikey, and I think it makes everyone who visits your page want to be better people.

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