This delicate beauty was made for me by the mother of a dear friend decades ago. Back when I still collected dolls. I no longer do, but Rebecca here (the name she whispered to me when I took her from her box the first time) still holds an honored spot in my home. For eleven months of the year she sits in view in a shadow box on my living room wall. The twelfth month she hangs in a prominent spot on my Christmas tree.
Hanging to the top right of her is a glass egg from a set of four, made in Egypt, purchased as an extravagance at a time when we hadn’t much money.
Next to the egg, a sweet-faced clown rides a unicycle with a monkey on his arm. I discovered him in a small shop on a trip to Montreal seventeen years ago with my mother, my brother, and my son. We drove there from Rhode Island in search of a warm wool coat for me. I came home with the clown, instead.
Every ornament on our tree has a story behind it; every story attached to a memory of a friend or family member, some of them no longer here. It takes a long time to decorate our tree.
The world is full of seemingly unrelenting misery right now, but–oh, my–in the small space that we can control, isn’t it an act of self-kindness to fill it with the things in our lives that give us such pleasure?
This is my wish for all of us this holiday season. That we make space wherever, whenever we can, and fill it with goodness, laughter….and most of all, love.
My friend Alison is gone. In a blink. Like the flutter of a bird’s tiny wing. Suddenly and unexpectedly. I hate that there was no time to say goodbye. It sucks that we have no say in who we lose, and when. Life is hard enough the way it is. We should get to say a proper farewell to the people we love. And Alison was someone I truly loved.
That we met at all was a fluke. That when we did we became friends was as if preordained. I can’t remember whether I first hired her to pick my field or she hired me to pick hers, but that was the beginning. We chatted, because it was what you did on Farm Town. You talked to a total stranger who lived who knows where in the world because you could. In our case it turned out that we were 3300 miles apart with an ocean between us. We quickly sussed how much we both loved to read ALL THE WORDS in all the books (when we weren’t making art out of imaginary fields on virtual farms, of course). We friended one another on Facebook, and continued to talk over the Farm Town fence where we learned that we each had an only child we were awed by, and who, despite being opposite genders and nearly seven years apart in age, were remarkably similar in their temperament and interests. How could we not become true friends?
Eventually, we met in real life. I adored her daughter as she loved my son. We were like sisters once separated through no fault of our own, now found, and reunited. It was happy days again. It was happy days each of the handful of times we got to spend time face-to-face.
Alison had a wicked sense of humor. She was one of the sharpest wits I knew. But she was an introvert like me, and she would go quiet occasionally, when the world was too much for her, and I recognized that tendency in myself. There are times when words are not enough and only the space for silent contemplation will do.
Still, I wish I would have told her how brilliant I thought she was, how much she made me laugh. I wish I would have let her know those naughty (but erudite) words I looked up for writing on her cast when she broke her arm. (rantallion, bescumber, fustylug, stympahlist.) They would have made her laugh. We should tell the people we love that we love them. We shouldn’t take for granted that they will know how much they mean to us unless we do.
I wish I could have thanked her for the years we had as friends. I wish I could tell her how the light is a little dimmer now that she’s not here.
I like these weekly photo challenges. They’re quick, I can get on and get off, and still feel like I’m not spending quite so much time on the internet. Plus, they give me a new way of looking at a word. Today’s word is family. A word, which for me, is sometimes so fraught with drama I want to run away and hide, or talk some kind person into adopting me. And yet, I know that my family of origin loves me no matter what, as I do them.
But family is such an expansive word, and when I read the challenge I thought of this photo, taken at least a decade ago. Because sometimes family is also a word for the friends who will get up before dawn and ride an hour-and-a-half just to stand beside you to watch the sun rise over Walden Pond.
I’m joining forces with a throng of bloggers today in a shout out for Susie Lindau who is currently undergoing a double mastectomy in Colorado. (You can read about it here.) Susie is the queen of our blogging hearts, a hostess extraordinaire, who knows how to live large and live well. Plus, she throws the very best parties!
Today, and in days to come, she needs all the love, strength and best wishes we can all muster. That she is a formidable woman, strong enough to kick cancer’s ass on her own is without question. But, why go it alone when you can have friends along on this particular wild ride?
So, Susie — this one’s for you, my friend. You’ve got a mighty big group of friends who can’t wait to have you back where you belong: wild-riding, dancing, photo-bombing, juggling flower pots, and generally just being your joy-filled, cancer-free self again.
On a gloomy afternoon, there’s a knock at my door. I recognize the sharp two-rap code that announces a package from UPS, followed by the soft thud of a box being set on the porch. It’s so cold outside, I don’t even want to open the door. I briefly entertain the idea of waiting until my husband gets home from work when he will see the package sitting outside and bring it in with him. But I’m not expecting a package, and so I decide to brave the shrill rush of arctic air long enough to sate my curiosity.
It was worth it. This is what the package contained: a cheery basket of spring bulbs. Sent by a couple of friends who live somewhere much warmer than Rhode Island. Buds from buds to their bud.
I’m so blessed!
P.S. Curiosity doesn’t always kill the cat.
P.P.S. Thank you to my generous buds for remembering my birthday in such a delightful way!