A few years ago, my friend Judith gave me a mobile for Christmas. It’s nothing more than disks of mirrored glass, with a few wooden beads in between the disks. Quite tacky looking, actually. Probably cost about $1.99. She bought one for herself as well. (I can so identify with that method of Christmas shopping–one for you, one for me.)
I immediately hung it in the back yard, and I began to notice that when the light was just right and the wind was blowing ever so slightly, that the mobile throws little dancing circles of light on the ground.
One day I was visiting her and spotted her mobile hanging on her back deck. I thanked her again for mine, and she said, it was a pretty meager gift. I said, Oh no, not true. This is not just a mobile, it’s a fairy finder. See, normally you can’t see fairies in the grass, but with this magic device, you can find them. It’s like a fairy spotlight. She completely cracked up, and said, Thanks–I can’t wait to tell my grandchildren about this. We could just picture her grandchildren diligently hunting fairies. What? You didn’t find one? You have to be quick! Fairies are very fast-moving.
Yesterday morning as I was making coffee, I looked out my kitchen window and the mobile was sparkling in the sunlight, in full fairy-finding glory. I felt this sudden and indescribable stab of sadness. Now I understand, why the word “stab” is used in this context. That’s exactly what it feels like. I go along with a sort of undercurrent of sadness about losing Judith, and then there is a moment like that one.
Such feelings strike me once in a while. Like when I’m at the grocery store in the frou-frou cheese section (usually buying Brie), I’ll spot a package of white Cheddar. Judith loved white cheddar. Before visiting her, I would stop at the store and pick up wine and crackers and cheese and fruit. I can live with or without white cheddar personally, but I’ll spot a package of it and think, Well, I’ll never have to buy that again. Stab.
Don’t get me wrong. I see that mobile every day of the world, and I visit the frou-frou cheese section of the grocery store at least weekly or more often. My grocery shopping behavior is very European in style. Buy two things today, and three tomorrow. God forbid you should make a list and shop all at once for a week’s worth of stuff.
So it’s only occasionally that I have these moments of stabbing pain. I don’t know why some times and not others. If I could figure that out, I’d put a stop to it right off the bat. I have a sort of theory, which is that it comes from NOT thinking about something painful for a long time, and you think you’re conquering it, but it never really goes away. It continues to collect, like water behind a dam, and one day, Poof! The water wins, and a little break appears in the dam. Inexorable seems like the right word to me.
Anyway, they say (whoever “they” are) that eventually your loss is mitigated by happy memories; at least, that’s what you’re supposed to work toward. I’d say I approve of that. Wallowing is unhealthy.
Judith died of breast cancer last July 21st. I miss everything about her: her grace, her courage, her kindness, her intelligence, her curiosity, her extroverted nature, her occasional unapologetic opinionatedness, her fierceness, her contentiousness, her capacity for joy. Yesterday I thought, I need to take that mobile down and put it away somewhere for a while. I need a break. But that wouldn’t work. Sitting in the back yard at my picnic table, I’d still be able to “see” it, even if it were hidden in a lonely little cardboard box in the closet.
I need that reminder of the happy times. I don’t want to forget Judith, I just want it to be less painful to remember her. And how could I do that without the Fairy Finder?