I stood in the warm spring sunshine of the morning, cleaning out the garbage pail. The most current tenants across the way played something they probably called music on their phone at a volume that rivaled any boom box of my youth. Another neighbor walks her dogs, spilling gossip and unrealized hate from behind a white face mask. The kitty-corner renters, an elderly mother and daughter argue over whose turn it is to run to the gas station for cigarettes. And yet another neighbor smiles and me and waves good morning.
Her smile is enough to make me blind to the garbage littering the street. This is where I live. This is my life.
And it is good. It is heartfelt. It is honest. And that is enough to make me smile.
My thoughts turn to spring planting and the coming summer months and scheduling and before I know it, I am already mapping out October again. And I have to stop myself. And turn my face to the sun. It’s a balm, even though my eyes are hidden behind wrap-around glasses.
I let myself think of summer. I have to prepare myself for the coming days of compression garments and heat. I am still recovering and the road I am on is long. But there is sweetness in the distant promise of fresh strawberries. The bright red berry pops into my head and I think of my Great-Grandma Elsie, and the summers she spent with us.
Strawberries were a delight for her.
And in that moment, she is standing with me, face to the sun, in the small patch of yard in front of the apartment we rent. I was taller than her when she died. A lot of people were taller than her. But I see her ghostlight shimmering below my chin and I can feel Elsie take my hand. Even in death hers is always cool to the touch. She squeezes gently with all of the wisdom of her old age.
This time is a gift. Enjoy each moment. Have gratitude for the day. For right now. For what you have. For where you are. Count your blessings.
You were always one of mine.
I totally cried in my front yard, unabashedly. She died when I was seventeen and my heart still yearns for her. Elsie loved summer. And I loved Elsie.
I turn my face to the sun, grateful for its heat and the warming winds. I know in my bones that those who came before me had the same moment of gratitude, over and over each spring. They were all New Englanders. We are connected in this gratitude. It transcends time within me.
And surely every creature who has survived a darkness, has that moment of knowing the worst of it has passed and a reprieve has come. And they turn themselves to the light.
Have gratitude for the day. For right now. For what you have. For where you are. Count your blessings.