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  • Dear Kylie,

    I found your note. It made me cry.

    My in-laws bought a beach house in the Outer Banks this winter, a dream come true for my husband, who is chock full of memories of blissful childhood summers spent on these beaches. My mother-in-law says she has never been so relaxed as she is within the comforting walls of this house, as she watches the water fowl fly silently across the sunsets over the Sound, clutching a warm cup of coffee. My father-in-law isn't one for expressing his happiness in words, but he is full of laughter and smiles as he works through his checklist of chores: repairing the dock steps, replacing light bulbs, installing a new stove top. It is rare to see him this carefree.

    One of the first weekends we visited, we spent an entire day moving furniture and art to better accommodate our extended family, which includes 4 young grandchildren, 5 young adults, 4 parents, and 2 grandparents. We lifted a watercolor off the wall to usher it to its new home across the house, when a white flash fell from behind the frame and bounced silently on the hardwood floor.

    It was your note, secreted behind the artwork on the wall.

    It was expertly folded, reminding me of the note-passing skills all girls acquire during the their elementary-school years. I imagine you used to read Nancy Drew as a kid, and those novels' twists and turns inspired you to entrust your message to the protection of your grandfather's house. How brave, not knowing when your note would be discovered, and whether the person reading it would take your message seriously. Like a castaway who tearfully sends a message in a bottle out to sea, praying that the recipient would treat your heart's words kindly. I cannot imagine the burden of the losses that inspired this note - the loss of a grandfather, the loss of his beloved house, and the loss of the last night spent in the protection of these memories. Did you watch the first rays of dawn break the horizon before you were strong enough to drop the folded paper behind the frame? Did you take it out once or twice, not sure if you should really leave it? Or were your convictions so strong that your slid the note behind the painting, wiped your tears, and never looked back?

    Kylie, I promise we are a good family, that we will keep his house safe, and that we will continue to honor the love that your family nourished here. It is a wonderful place, and one that inevitably brings families closer together. When we have children, I will watch as they form their own childhood happinesses here. Hearing their shrieks of laughter, I will think of you, Kylie, and smile. Thank you for reminding us that we are simply a part of the story your family started, and we promise to carry your love of this house on.

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