After I witnessed your spirit leap out with your last breath and soar into the tall fir trees, I doubted you’d hang around. You’d endured and overcome two cancers before the third, final, one engulfed you with horrific pain that only palliative hospice care could ease. You had loved us well and devoted your life to us. Now it was time for you to be free.
Your memory was vibrant in all the friends and family as they shared their stories at your Celebration of Life. Your photos surrounded by glorious flowers were a lovely tribute to the dynamic and devoted life you’d lived. Yet, you were no longer there.
I returned to your home after the service. Your cherished husband Chuck graciously gifted me several keepsakes from our years together. Surrounded by all the treasures from your life and travels, your garden, your dear Chuck and pups, memories flooded back. Yet, you were no longer there.
After we left your hometown, Thom and I and the three dachshunds took two weeks to step outside of life to reflect and grieve. We went back to the ocean on the Oregon Coast where you and I’d vacationed together since 2002. It was where you’d given us the assignment to each write a Tall Tale that unknowingly would catapult me into being a children’s author. The waves roared and white-capped, the birds flew, the wind blew, we walked the beaches, visited the co-op art gallery we loved and ate in our favorite restaurants. Yet, you were no longer there.
And then … There was a steep trail that led down to a protected beach where we could count on finding our favorite blue shells. We always sought out a stunning few to add to the shrine of nature’s treasures we created on a table. I decided against climbing down the path as it seemed too precarious this year. I comforted myself with our memories of past explorations and continued along the walkway. To my utter surprise and delight, I found a perfect large blue shell sitting on top of a picnic table! In my mind’s eye I could see your generous loving hands gently placing it there for me to find. You were there in that kind gesture.
A recent popular activity to spread joy is rock painting. People paint flowers, designs or messages on small rocks and then place them in public places as a surprise gift for the finder. I’d known about this from articles but had never found one. Thom and I parked our car along the 804 Trail that you and I walked numerous times over the years. Just as I stepped out of the car, I noticed a painted flower on a rock! Again, you were there in that kind gesture. I took a couple photos of the rock and thought how happy I felt finding it. I decided to leave it for another person to find … to allow the concentric circles of kindness to spread even farther. After we returned from our walk, the rock was gone. I knew I’d made the correct decision and it was now gracing someone else’s life.
Shortly after we returned home Thom took the dogs to a local park. Mini wire-haired Lacey … who is always busy doing something … was intrigued with digging and snuffling under the park bench. Soon she proudly brought out something in her mouth from her excavating. It was a small rock painted in turquoise with tiny purple flowers. This time the message was clear. It would be brought home to me. As Thom placed it into my hands, you were there.
Your brother Bill took tiny flakes of your ashes and enclosed them in beautifully crafted glass pendants for the family. I was deeply honored to have received one. I wear it daily. It is a comfort to have something tangible with a piece of you to hold. Bill’s generosity reflected how you had been an encouragement and balm to so many during difficult times. And in that gesture of kindness, you were there.
Each time I’ve encountered an unexpected gesture or mention of kindness, you are there, and I eagerly look forward to sharing about it in my letter to you in the Kindlandia Blog.
Many dear friends and family are reading our letters in Kindlandia and it delights me as they now point out kindnesses for me to include. This week several people sent me the photo of the Connected Hearts/Be Kind Fence Art in the Frances Anderson Playfield in Edmonds. It is the creation of the commercial designer and artist Susan Lally-Chiu. You left us three months ago, yet your passion for kindness continues to influence and uplift people. Yes, in these and other unexpected gestures of kindness, you are there.
We miss you dearest Edythe, yet your love and goodness still radiate through others as we continue to celebrate and illuminate kindness.