I’m sitting at my discount store pseudo country table positioned in front of two windows right off of the tiny kitchen in my Manhattan apartment. In my eyes this table had the old farmhouse feel I had wanted at the price I could afford for I was no longer at the jewelry magazine serving as editor in chief. I was now freelancing and preparing to enter into seminary to begin…what? I really didn’t have a clue yet what I was preparing for.
Why did I put the table in front of the windows? The view is of the backside of the other apartment building next to mine. I strain my neck to look up at the patch of blue sky. I guess the bits of sun and snippets of life beyond brick walls are worth having the table there.
I’m sitting at my discount store pseudo country table in my Manhattan apartment sipping coffee on what is a deceitful January morning in which the cooing of pigeons makes it sound as if it is warmer outside than it really is.
I’m sitting there…right now, this very moment.
That’s the beauty of memories.
Quiet yourself long enough and allow your heart to revisit that which might bring a tear to your eyes and you can be anywhere at anytime once again.
I’m risking the unbearable ache of the heart by rewinding many years back so that I can remember a colleague and friend, Cindy, who died suddenly and died way too soon.
I am rewinding the memory tape so that I can remember—and hopefully finally learn—a lesson she taught me on one deceitful January morning that was not as warm out as it seemed. The lesson of love and healing that was in one simple phrase she spoke to me:
“I thought of you today.”
That’s what she said on the other end of the phone when I picked it up. I was surprised to hear from her. I had been out of the jewelry industry for a year and it was clear to me as well as to others that I was slipping away, not planning on making writing about jewelry a way of life but rather as a means to get me to whatever my what next was going to be.
Was Cindy thinking about me today for a writing project?
As a freelancer I always felt like I was a squirrel scurrying about trying to gather enough nuts to get me through a desolate winter. And so one more writing assignment was one more nut stored away for the day I would be immersed in theological readings with little or no time to write about the world of jewelry.
“It’s good to hear from you, too, Cindy,” I said, waiting to hear what the “assignment” was. “So why did I come to your mind today?”
What came next surprised me.
“Well, this is not business related. It’s more personal,” Cindy said.
“Oh,” I said not quite sure what I was bracing myself for, but bracing I was.
“I’m not sure if you’re dating anyone or even if you’re opened to dating anyone right now, but I have someone in mind for you,” she said.
“Oh,” I said slowly processing what I was hearing.
Cindy was just one of hundreds in the jewelry industry who knew of my tragic loss. I reflected on the death of my boyfriend in an editorial, writing about the power there is in jewelry and the stories of life—lived and lost—that is in each piece of precious gems and metals.
I wrote about all the coins from the various countries he was traveling to that he had left behind on my pseudo country table before heading off to what would be his final trip to Africa. In a second, in a freak jeep accident, his life was gone.
I wrote to my jewelry family in that editorial that while my boyfriend never bought me jewelry—how could he, I was in the jewelry industry and so I knew jewelry better than he did—I would one day take those coins and make a charm bracelet out them. And that bracelet would be the most precious piece of jewelry ever for it told our story.
Yes it had been a year and no I wasn’t dating anyone yet. Was I really ready to? Not quite.
That’s what I told Cindy. She understood and we talked a bit more, caught up on jewelry gossip and shared a laugh before saying good-bye.
I hung up the phone and sat at my table sipping my coffee feeling as if I just received a huge, warm hug.
Cindy called not seeking anything for herself. The call wasn’t business related. Cindy simply picked up the phone to call me because she was thinking about me—a year later—in my time of singleness and still-heavy grief.
“I thought about you today.”
The memory tape has stopped playing. I’m sitting at a real country table made out of hearty Maine pine. It is yet another deceitful January morning in which the birds chirping can make you believe it is warmer outside than it really is. It’s been years since I was that jewelry editor and gone are those “side of a brick building” views. They have been replaced with beautiful Vermont country views.
Yet I can still feel that warm and loving hug from a woman who in her busy life thought about a colleague who would soon be no longer active in the industry she loved and an industry who loved her back.
I’m sipping coffee on the day in which Cindy will be laid to rest. Thousands of tears will fall from others who I am sure heard those same words I heard that day so long ago.
I sip and gaze, remember and cry, and whisper to the memory of a selfless, loving woman, “I thought about you today.”
And always will.