My cherished friend, Ruby, and I drove to Mamie’s home for a visit. Mamie had been in the hospital for a week. Mamie is our 86-year-old beloved poet friend.
Ruby and I did not know what to expect. We heard Mamie did not want any more tests. She wanted to go home.
Her dog, Lucy, greeted us at the screen door. A warm late summer day graced our visit with sunshine and clouds. The large screened-in porch faces a glorious view of trees and mountains in the distance. Many bouquets of colorful fresh flowers sat on top of large and small tables.
Mamie slowly walked out onto the porch announcing, “I am not dead, yet! I am still here!”
We laughed with her. She made her way to the cushioned wicker love seat. I placed another vase of fresh-cut flowers on one of the remaining open spaces on an end table. My small gift. Ruby and I sat in chairs opposite her.
She and Ruby briefly chatted about friends they love. They told stories about a famous basketball player and his family. I listened quietly to these senior Southern women. Their rich, tender, full-bodied voices soothed every cell of my body. I feel like I have known them for lifetimes. Bathed in an energy field of much kindness, I began to include my voice as the conversation organically expanded.
Ruby handed Mamie one sterling silver angel wing earring tied to a shiny, colorful ribbon. Ruby also gifted her a soft blue scarf that matched the color of her beautiful eyes. Mamie wanted to wear the earring in her ear and began attempting to untie the knotted ribbon. I watched her hands struggle and fumble.
Ruby read from the book by Charlie Mackesy, “Sometimes I feel lost,” said the boy. “Me too,” said the mole, “But we love you and love brings you home. I think everyone is just trying to get home,” said the mole.
I said, “Mamie, may I try?”
She said, “Yes, please.”
She handed me the ribbon with the wing. I patiently used my thumb and fingers. I gently rubbed and picked at the knot to finally loosen one loop from another. This created breathing room between the ribbon and the metal of the earring.
I shared how my love relationship seemed to be at an endpoint even as I felt hopeful for a respectful, kind, beautiful friendship to emerge. I offered that he and I have been playing a collaborative version of double solitaire. This activity feels like a metaphor for rebuilding trust and a win/win experience of support for both of us. We flip over hidden cards and place other cards into the mutual middle space. Openness is my word for this year. I know he and I have created a depth and breadth of loving kindness neither of us had ever experienced in past intimate relationships.
As I listened to Ruby share quotes from Mamie’s favorite writer and poet, Frederick Buechner, who died a few weeks ago, I felt tears puddle. Hearing Buechner’s words of life wisdom and being with these two wonderful friends, I knew love existed. Love is in everything and everywhere. Love is in this knot.
I finally loosened the knot. I slid the ribbon from the earring and handed the wing and ribbon back to Mamie.
She looked up at me and said, “You have been untying knots for a very long time.”
I allowed the truth of her words to sink into my soul as tears, again, welled in my eyes.
Mamie placed the one angel wing earring in her right earlobe. It shimmered next to her cheek. She swallowed her pills and then told us about the red chemotherapy pill. The doctors advised her to wash her hands after touching it.
“I don’t have a lot of faith in doctors. What is it doing to the insides of my body that I can’t wash with soap and water? I know I’m ingesting poison. I’m just grateful I’m no longer tied down to a bed by tubes everywhere. I have hospice care coming. I’m not dead yet, and I know I’m in my last chapter,” she shared.
Mamie petted her dog, Lucy, a small, sweet-faced, white curly-haired dog. Lucy placed her head in Mamie’s lap. Lucy never left Mamie’s side our entire visit.
Mamie shared she washed her hair sitting on the bottom of the shower without assistance earlier that morning. She removed the silver clips, then ran her fingers through her soft, white hair, and thanked us for visiting her. She smiled.
We all said, “I love you,” because we do.
Then, it was time to go home.
“We don’t know about tomorrow,” said the horse, “all we need to know is that we love each other,” from The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.
Dedicated to Mamie Davis Hilliard, beloved friend, poet, and author of “and to see takes time…”
You are one fine woman and I love you.
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately supports people thriving by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, and life. Laura is the published author of four books including Live Inspired which reveals the brave and deep work of self-discovery and her new book of short writings and poetry Abundant Heart: Thoughts on Healing, Loving, and Living Free where with her characteristic grace and candor, Laura shares thoughtful-sometimes comical reflections on healing, loving and living free as inspirational pathways for experiencing a soul-centered, fulfilled life.