Yesterday, Lori died. Regrettably, I hadn’t seen her in years and years. But, she was close with one of my very best friends, Susie. What I do remember and everyone tells me, she always had a smile on her face — always managed a good laugh in the midst of any crisis. She leaves behind her husband of 26 years, two lovely daughters, a sister and scores of friends. In September she had felt good about her doctor’s report, last week she stopped treatment, and yesterday she passed away. She had been fighting cancer for seven long years.
This morning, Ryne left for Ithaca in the bitter cold to pick up most of Emma’s college “stuff…” He’ll be back around 6 or 7:00 tonight — depending on how well Emma packed. She’ll be done on Tuesday and driving home on Wednesday…seems impossible, but she’ll have taken her last college final tomorrow.
After he left, I stoked the fire and smiled as I watched the dogs, Miguel and Riley, position themselves for a nice comfy nap in its glow. I poured my second mug of coffee, and checked in with our Facebook friends. My friend Jodi is missing her sister, Darcie, today. She has been gone five years, and Jodi wishes she could share with her how her beautiful girls have grown into beautiful women. She has posted a picture of her beloved sibling and best friend…I am sorry for Jodi and her nieces. I am sorry for her sister, too.
I disappear into Jon’s room, cold and cluttered until a few hours before he pulls in the driveway on Saturday for the holidays. I am proud that my two children are independent souls who are flourishing far from home. But, I miss them just the same. Before they return, I will open their doors and let waves of heat from the house flood their rooms. I will make-up the beds with flannel sheets, freshen the pillows, and turn down the comforters. In just a few hours after they arrive it will look like they had never left… but I don’t mind at all.
I emerge…juggling wrapping paper, boxes and bows.
I am wrapping today.
I make my way to the kitchen where I deliberately remove the bowl of pears and oranges, such treasure this time of year. I wash down the counter top and arrange my tools — black pen, red-handled scissors, scotch tape. The Christmas carols from the television seem familiar, but there is definitely something different in the air today. Something different in me. There’s no rushing today, no stress, no distractions from my task. Today, perhaps for the very first time, I realize at a completely different level, what an honor it is just to see the ghostly frost swirl up from the river and stand in my sun-kissed kitchen before a pile of lovingly selected gifts .
Today, I’m not wrapping just for me.
Today, I’m wrapping for every woman who had to leave before she was damn good and ready….before she got to see her son graduate, her daughter dance at her wedding, or her baby’s first snowfall. I’m wrapping for every big sister who wanted just one more holiday to tell her little sister that she long ago forgave her the time she spilled Lambrusco all down the front of her best cashmere sweater, for every daughter who meant to tell her dad that he was a pretty great guy and wished she had put down the dishrag just once and joined him in watching the Yankees rout the Sox…for every wife who needed just one more early wake up call to roll over and whisper to her husband that she is thankful that he is hers.
Today, I wrap for all the mothers, daughter, sisters, and lovers who won’t be smoothing out the perfectly chosen paper and squaring the edges, curling stubborn ribbons, and writing little messages on behalf of the family dog on gift tags. They are gone…but I am here. So, today, I must be completely in the moment; savoring every fold, every angle, every tuck and flourish. I owe them that much.
While the morning steadily unwinds to afternoon, the carols play and the fire blazes. Today, I wrap in honor of Lori, Darcie, Jean, Doris, Ruth, and Mary Jane….and all the women who won’t be placing lovingly wrapped gifts under the tree this Christmas.
Today, I wrap for legion.
“Four things you can’t recover:
the stone after the throw,
the word after its said,
the occasion after its missed,
the time after it’s gone.”