My last email from her, like most everyone else probably, started out “Hello everyone,” followed always by some message we needed to hear. We are a group that is generally stressed by working crazy hours and so we all needed her. We needed to have reminders of simple things sometimes, delivered in gentle, supportive ways. This is due in two days… this is due in one day…Did you get my message yesterday that this was due today. She was so patient. We were so needy. For eight years she has always been there for us.
Holidays bring out the whole spectrum of happy to sad in people. I almost think it would be helpful to know where others stand. What if we had lapel pins, numbered one thru ten. In a perfect world, we would have them; "1” would mean you wanted to skip the holiday all together, as you were not feeling it. “10” would mean you were joyful and exuberant.
I live just off route 611 and a few years ago there was a plane that used the highway to crash land. It occurred right there where 611 intersects with 313... And there is a car dealership right there .... And this was daytime so the buildings had employees and customers. They were startled to awareness when they heard a plane engine somewhere above that sounded all wrong. They ran to the big tall giant windows and instantly knew the struggle of the pilot with that sputtering, coughing engine. The plane never seemed to gain proper height and now it wheezed lower and lower, approaching the highway with intermittent cars in both directions. There were people that could be suddenly killed by simply driving, unknowing, each side of the highway. Coming down, the small plane hit wires and broke in half and collapsed down with scrapes, crunches and thick black smoke.
And the people in that car dealership, who had stood at the window and had seen another human struggle, saw the smoke and knew the danger and perhaps hopelessness the pilot faced ... what did they do?
As one, they moved. Like schools of fish they darted about. They ran for fire extinguishers. They ran for buckets and their fastest source of water. They ran over to the courtesy area and grabbed bottles of water and ran toward the accident.
How beautiful is that. We talk and hear about our differences all day as if that is all there is.
When we have to act fast, we just love one another.
I am not sure how to get to where you are from here. And yet I know today you might be needing something. So I have a little boat that can cross the sea. I have a pigeon that can carry a basket and fly across mountains. I have a little cart pulled by two companionable oxen that can tirelessly travel the roughest roads. Listen carefully over the next few weeks and you might hear the bells they like to wear around their necks, as they get closer.
For all you need to do is expect that relief is coming. Anticipate that things will be better when your package arrives. Feel hope, imagining that even before you needed something, what you needed was on its way to you.
What will you find? There is a handmade mailbox filled with notes from everyone that has loved you, the living and the dead. The notes are reminders of wonderful moments and how much you mean, or meant and still mean, for even if people are “gone’ they still touch you in a breeze. Some notes have dried tears on them. They are always tears of happiness though, even if we would not think it so. There is such love in these notes. Just imagining what they contain fills my heart up. Think about who might have written. What might they be remembering about you? I wonder what you would write to them if you had a chance.
What a lovely idea, to write; for eyes that can still drink in your words or the breezes that might dance across each letter on a page. The breeze might even take the page home.
I have sent you three Paperwhite bulbs, in a little pot with some pebbles from your favorite place. At first only the pebbles will please you, how they feel, what they make you think of. They bring you to a place you love. The bulbs look lifeless, brown, uninspiring. But once they hear your voice and are within your sunshine, once they have been greeted with some water to quench their thirst, they will begin to send out little roots. They will begin to send out green arms, reaching up to wave at you if you spend time with them. They will rise, taller and fuller than you could imagine. They will bloom, and you will try to name the beauty of their fragrance to your friend who has a stuffed up nose. You will breathe deeply, trying to describe this simple thing, and finding it impossible. All this was within those dormant bulbs. It had been so hard to see any possibilities in these bulbs. That such beauty could come from such bleakness might make you smile.
Oh, an orange too, you might think as you shift it in the box. It might take a bit until you see it. For here is a beautiful orange. Your hand will naturally cup around it. It is as bright as the sun and as round as the earth. Why are they always so perfect I wondered, as I thought to put it in your package. It comes with its own protective covering so that I know it can travel, its little sections secure side by side. It is safe even though each section contains hundreds of fragile little pillows of liquid. It will not leak. Your mouth might water on the day you start to peel it. Your eyes might rest on the beautiful color, your nose will be eager, your mouth ready even as you read this, even though the package is only on its way. Your hands will be great tools and will remember how to open it. Oranges are easy to share. You can share sections with a companion be it a man or beast. As I packed it, I sent with it the fun of my own dog when I share an orange. He takes his piece gently from my hand, as if he remembers what a miraculous treat it is. As if he is honored to share.
Oh dear friend, what else might you be needing? For if you are reading this, there is a package making its way to you. I am almost done with what to put inside, just a few more things… I added a box of new crayons yesterday, and a sketch book and pencils, for I have always loved your creativity. I am surprising you with an instrument, so that you will play and sing. I have filled the box with reminders to dance more, move your body with pleasure. Hiking shoes, a stick from the woods to walk with, wool socks and a scarf knit stitch by stitch with love…The boat, the oxen, and the pigeon are all excited. They know who they will be seeing. They are so ready to surprise you. Is there anything else you want me to put in? Send me your wish on the next breeze. Stay hopeful. Feel the ease of knowing that something is always on its way; something is always on its way, no matter what.
Book pages with illustrations are from "The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet" by Reif Larson