Mornings are tough. The changes overnight are ever more dire, and it’s dark. I start the tea-water boiling. Without conscious consent my brain joins the bubbling roil. Can a new morning ritual calm the waters?
Hanging outside my bathroom door is a collection of necklaces given to me by people I love who love me. Each one is a precious piece of art and joy, but until recently I rarely took one off the rack to put it around my neck. Now, each morning I choose one to remind me to be grateful.
There’s a silver, antiqued, ring of flowers holding a sparkly, faceted, deep-purple stone. My husband, Art, gave me this. He weathers the storms of my tears without condescension, judgment, or dismissal. He’s there, and he’s present. He holds me in silence knowing there are no solutions.
The three strands of turquoise beads strung together by Patricia Coriz, Kewa from the Santa Domingo Pueblo, were given to me by son, Tim, who knows Patricia. Tim is an exquisitely insightful, deeply connected, intensely brilliant joy to me; plus, he’s authentically hilarious. Tim gives me permission to cry. He mentors and supports me in my gut level emotional work for Mother Earth. And he plays with me — skiing in winter, camping in summer. His wonderful wife Anna is there by his side doing the work of community care executed with loving grace.
Then there’s the string of yellow and orange paper beads made by women in the Bead for Life project https://www.beadforlife.org/ that my youngest sister, Hettie, gave me. Hettie is a bundle of bouncy energy and laughter. Quick-witted and whip-smart she always raises moods and warms hearts with her honest, open love.
Hanging longer than all the rest is a big branching silver tree in a circle of silver, against a cerulean sky. My younger sister, Lacy, gave me this one. Lacy was born when I was 12½. She’s the baby sister I had been begging for for years. What luck! Lacy is an empathetic, contemplative, quiet, science-type and now a storyteller. After she abandoned engineering, she started writing intricate, plot-bending stories with laugh-out-loud characters and plot twists. She’s found her voice, and now I find myself wishing I lived in one of her stories with the quirky, lovable people she creates. But only if she would be there too.
I have two other sisters, Christine and Wendy, and a beautiful dog, Zoli. Christine is the oldest of the five of us – an all-girl family. She has a God-given talent for paint. With fierce opinions and standards, she doesn’t compromise. She’s been there these recent days, on the phone, with laughs and love. Irreplaceable. Wendy, my closest sister for much of my life is brilliant, a writer and a reader who provided ballast for me in earlier days when I was in need. Zoli is the faithful walker. Every day he joins me in Wash Park, some days more enthusiastic about it than others. But still he goes. And he sits with me in the afternoons as I read or write or sew or play my uke or do my yoga. He’s there, and he has kisses to spare.
In this time of tears, I have much to be grateful for. A sparkle around my neck, there in the mirror when once again I wash my hands, reminds me of the unique gifts each one of these people in my family has and shares with me in gracious love. So many have lost and will lose the people of their necklaces, the beads that join the circle of their love. It’s heartbreaking.
My necklaces, and I have more for the days ahead, also remind me to be grateful for all the people I don’t know who are doing heroic work, putting their own lives at risk for me, for my family, for so many they don’t know.
Stop, breathe, and give thanks. Then it’s OK to cry too.