Their moments were fleeting; at times, raw. This, was that moment.
She giggled. A child’s head popped up from beneath the table. His daughter, a sprite of girl straightened and met his stare. A paper doll dangled from her fingertips. The style of doll was familiar; he knew Jacqueline had sketched it, had painted in the model like features and cut it to form.
“I didn’t see you,” he laughed. “How long have you been here?”
She was his light beam; her smile tamed darkness.
In that moment she charmed him. Feet planted, Annie straightened and dared: stay. Her ruffled blonde hair, wide bangs cut short, and one off- centered, green eye, opened wide; he had noticed her tricks.
Instantly, Annie lowered her head and the spell was broken.
He crouched beside her. Gently, his fingertips smoothed the tussled strands of her hair into place. He cupped her dimpled chin and waited for her to look up. When she did, he traced the freckled path along her cheekbone. Surgical tape stuck to the skin above her left eyebrow. One edge of the tape had lifted. Carefully, his fingertip pressed the errant corner into place. He knew she hated the eye patch, always picked at the edges to get free of the gauze covering.
He lingered in that moment. She was his black cat bone, his good luck charm.
It snowed this weekend and the world became just a bit more enchanted. Layers of water and ice glistened over the street. Ribbons of snowflakes tumbled and bedecked the boughs beyond my window. Lights twinkled, evermore bright, as darkness dropped a veil atop the blanket of white. A hush settled upon the land. The world was beautiful to behold.
I’ve learned to look closely, to appreciate the layers of a life.
Everything layers. The snow that buries treasure. The cut pine boughs that house an errant spider. The branch of Winterberries that feed the birds. The words we write; the silences we keep.
My eyes scan the room to view a mother’s treasured sideboard. Once it stood stained and polished, waiting for Sunday. On that sacred day, she’d set out the silver and china serving dishes. Her best effort. And we would celebrate family.
A patina of paint and wax covers the oak sideboard. The top sanded, the edges worn. The silver stands in a cast iron urn, a twist on up cycling. The china serving bowls rarely make an appearance. I see the candle burning down. A daughter’s attempt to hold on, let go, to illuminate the night.
My fingers lift a gilded frame. The sepia photograph is of a woman. I trace her portrait. She is standing on a deck, leaning against a railing, looking out to sea. Dressed in her finest clothing, her fingertips hold a hat. A lady always wears a hat. She was a believer in proper etiquette. Beyond her rolls the Atlantic.
I recall her eyes, shades of indigo grey. Behind their depth is another layer. Doubt. I imagine her pausing, pondering, “Should I leave England?” I dust off worry and discover bravery. Carefully, I lift another layer to expose joy ~ he is waiting for her to cross an ocean. On another continent, he goes about his life, planning, constructing, beholden to a dream.
A certain magic fills the room. A whispered breeze kisses my forehead. I see my Grandmother; she is still beautiful. Time has gently taken its toll. Her once bright eyes have paled. They glimmer, wet pools of faded blue. Her finest dress, threadbare. A pin of pearls is elegantly placed beneath the collar of her blouse. Beside her armchair a weathered curtain hangs, the faded Irish lace rustles.
Everything is layered, weathered, chipped, cracked and broken. Be still. Pay attention to the forgotten. It is within glorious imperfection that we find beauty. Lift the layers gently, see beyond the cracks. Everything and everyone has a story to tell. The magic of the world works in whispers. You only need a heart that feels to see the wonder that surrounds us.