I was out when my roses were dropped off in front of my front door. When I got home and saw them, of course I knew someone had sent me flowers for my birthday and I was happy to see the box. When I picked it up, I saw that the flowers had come from Downers Grove, IL, a Chicago suburb. Tears stung my eyes. I fought off my cursed hope that the flowers might have been from my daughter. I know she is gone for good, I feel it deep in my mothering heart, but I am an imperfect human and hope, as Emily Dickinson so aptly put it in one of her poems, hope is that thing with feathers. Hope will float up on its own.
As I rushed into my apartment, putting down my things, rushing to open the flowers, finding scissors and then eagerly digging around for a card to confirm who they were from, I kept crying even though my heart was like a stone, even though I knew they would not be from her.
They were from a dear friend, someone I love very much. Actually, my deep love for her was just as instant as my deep love for my child, the love I began to feel within days of her conception. This friend who sent the roses is special. I met her on an island in Puget Sound. We were both at a four-day, residential weekend retreat. At the end of the first, introductory evening, just about everyone stepped outside to ring a bell in the courtyard outside the venue. It was a tradition to ring that bell, one after another.
like those soldiers in the Wizard of Oz who march in line but then the Lion, scarecrow, and the tinman, who have stolen some soldier uniforms drop out of line to help Dorothy . . . and we can see the lion's tail sticking out as they try to blend in, I got in line to ring the bell but hung back, having no intention of going out. It was fall in Puget Sound so it was raining.
When I ducked out of the line, I noticed a woman I had met a few times before. She was always warm and friendly and I moved towards her, imagining she would be easy company while I hid from the bellringing. I thought she was alone so I walked towards her. When i got close enough, in the unlit room with darkness without, I saw another woman was seated with her. And she saw me. She also saw that I had begun to turn, to change course. I wanted to change course because I felt this woman's great power, great loving power and I knew she would see me.Really see me, you know? So I decided to pretend I was headed to the restroom. I smiled a greeting and tried to scurry away to avoid that amazing woman who, I was telling myself, was too special for the likes of me.
This too special woman, however, stood up and said "I apologize, Jo, for cutting you off, but a special being has just entered our midst and I must stop and greet her" and she introduced herself and asked my name, then began to introduce me to Jo but I said I knew Jo. In the big circle of forty or more, everyone had been asked to say their name to introduce themselves. I, for reasons I don't remember but were likely connected to my profound introversion, had declined to just say my name. so my friend said "I am Maggie. What is your name?" This friend would never call me Tree, only Therese. And every time I hear her say it, even when I only 'hear' her say it in my mind's eye, I feel blessed. I feel love. I feel bigger, brighter, holier when Maggie greets me. She greeted me, that night in Thomas Berry Hall as if I were just as special as she. I am. We all are.
So getting a dozen gorgeous roses from my dear, dear Maggie was totally wonderful. Totally.
And my Katie bruise still hurts. I would be hurting if the flowers had been from her. No roses can repair my damaged heart.
But roses from someone who loves me: a healing balm!
When I cried about my Katie as I opened my flowers, I remembered some of Maggie's losses and remembered how she has borne up so beautifully, growing in love even as she endured loss after loss.
I changed my FB name to Therese because that's what Maggie calls me and my heart feels fuller when I imagine her saying my name. That's a good reason, right?
Katie always called me Mom. My heart always felt fuller when Katie called me Mom. I cannot hear her saying it in my mind now, no matter how hard I try.