I’m a very lucky girl. As I look around at the people in my life, I can’t help but realize what a great family I have and how fortunate I am to have friends that care about me. Sometimes there are moments in life when that realization can bring a person to tears.
It’s been a little over two years now since my husband took his life. News was quick to spread that day – my friends offered instant support, my family was wise enough to second-guess my ‘need to be alone’. I left for a few days – a brief escape from my suddenly-changed life, relying on my family for things I didn’t even know I needed.
One morning, my sister decided to visit some friends and asked if I’d like to go along. This was a fellow I hadn’t seen for at least 20 years and his new partner, who I’d heard so much about and had hoped to one day meet. Not sure I could hide my grief and wanting to spare them discomfort, I decided not to go. I was sure I had made the right decision. But then I wondered – was this my one chance to see them after all this time? What if I never got another opportunity? Life can be funny like that. Suddenly, seeing them was far more important than a potential awkward moment.
Brian and Nancy are artists, and our visit began with a tour of their studios. Brian creates from wood, Nancy from soapstone – occasionally they combine their work, creating unique and special pieces. As we wandered around their studios, a wooden bowl caught my eye. This was no ordinary bowl – it was perfect in its irregular shape, unique in its markings. I told Brian that although all of his pieces were beautiful, this one had captured my heart. I discovered it was made from BC Maple, and the beautiful coloring along the edges was called patina. Just for fun I asked what it would sell for, content with the thought that it was beyond my reach at that moment but secretly wishing I could afford to take it home. I enjoyed the dream.
My sister and Nancy eventually wandered back to the house. Brian and I stayed behind in the studio and chatted about the bowl, their life together and their shared passion. Eventually the conversation turned to me and he asked how I was doing. Those few words triggered an instant flow of tears – I eventually began to explain what had just happened and we shared some conversation while I pulled myself together. Although our exchange was brief, his compassion was evident. The moment was anything but awkward.
Nothing was said when we joined the other two, and my sister and I eventually headed for home – both mentioning what wonderful, loving people Brian and Nancy were and what a great visit we had. We parted ways, and I returned home to pick up the pieces of my life and move forward, one day at a time.
The doorbell rang one morning and I opened the door to a courier, standing beside a big brown box. As I thanked him and carried the box inside, I was confused. I wasn’t expecting anything and had no idea what it might be. As I glanced at the return address, I was again confused. But as I opened it and caught a glimpse of what was inside, I started to cry. A big, long, uninhibited cry.
Inside the box was the beautiful wooden bowl I had fallen in love with a few weeks ago. There was also a note – words of love and support, but also words explaining the bowl:
“We have something that belongs to you. A Memory Bowl. It only holds happy memories, and has yet to overflow. We hope you will do your best to fill it now and keep topping it up in the years ahead” ~ Brian & Nancy
In the weeks and months that followed, my family and friends continued to be there for me in so many ways I have lost count. Amongst the adversity, a strength and a closeness was forged. I discovered the difference between knowing people would be there for me if I needed them, and actually calling them on it. This was real. I needed them, and they were there.
I have re-read that note many times over the past two years and the tears continue to fall, but they’re softer tears now. I survived – life went on – and through it all felt loved, supported and utterly cared for. It’s quite a feeling.
A single wooden bowl – beautiful in its own right, but now a symbol of love and a reminder of happy memories. A reminder of amazing family and friends. A reminder of love.
I’m a very lucky girl.
Photo by Carol Good – all rights reserved