It works like this: I log on in the morning as I am saying to myself (I talk to myself all the time),"Let me see if there is a story."
Because what I have learned is that the stories are everywhere. They are not mine; they floating through the air. They are beside the bright poppies that have just bloomed in the garden.
There is a story in all of the people sleeping in this house right now. There is a story in the pit of my stomach, nauseous from this morning's dose of Doxycycline. There is a story in the bikes, quiet now, on the front porch. There are many stories in this early summer morning hour. The trick is to sit still and let one fall into my lap. Into my hands. Into my heart.
This morning it is this:
Yesterday I was in Charlotte. After I dropped Coco at school, went to Richard's house to get her backpack, went back to school and gave it to magnificent school secretary Cindy, I went to visit my friend, Raina. There are many things I could tell you about Raina. So many, but mostly this morning what I should say is that no matter how overwhelmingly full her life is, she always welcomes me in and makes me feel like there is nothing else in the world she would rather do than sit and talk with me. Raina is calm and Raina is captivatingly beautiful in the most natural way you have ever seen.
I have heard that some fancy women are trying to live their lives without make-up, that this is some kind of movement. There's probably a catchy hashtag involved. Make-up would make Raina's face look ridiculous. I believe this to be true of all women, but when I look at a face like Raina's I think those things. And, also, she talks in a voice that's part hushed and knowing, part instructional, if that makes any sense. She told me some things I needed to hear, and coming from Raina, with her magical gardens, light and creature-filled house (she is currently engaged in an animal rescue/rehabilitation project that involves having 4 pigeons in her kitchen) and new construction in her yard (a home for her family, that she designed – they have been living in the most elegantly-repurposed garage space you have ever seen for many years), I know I need to listen.
I am having trouble finding the right words. Probably because Raina and her life are overwhelming in the very best way. When I left her yesterday, I had a baby chicken in my car. It had been born with two beaks and needed to be delivered from the person who was care-taking it in northern Vermont to its new home in southern Vermont, which was on my way back to my home.
In the few hours I got to spend with Raina yesterday, she had brokered a chicken rescue transportation deal and helped me understand the importance of earning a decent living for the work I do.
We also moaned a fair amount about our gluten issues and bounced a lot of love and light off of each other, and then I had to get on the road.
Later in the day I got word that one of my hospice friends was very close to dying. So I went to where she was. The sun was setting as I drove past the lake. I spied my boys out there on the boat, waterskiing. I arrived in time to be with my friend for a little while. I told her how she had radiated love in a very pure way in the days when I had been with her. Her communication had diminished considerably over time, but she said the words, "I love you," over and over and over. It never got old.
I held her hand and told her about how much joy she had brought to my life. The nurse came and while the nurse and my friend's daughter and son-in-law were looking at her feet for signs of physical transformation, she very quietly took her last breath and left this world.
Two deliveries in one day and a brand new bright orange poppy. That's the story that fell down from this morning's summer sky. Amen.
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