The snow storm, already impacting a large portion of the United States, will arrive on my doorstep tomorrow evening.
It will be our first snow of the season; we have had a few flurries, but not enough to be inconvenienced by, or to color our world bright and pristine.
Today we ran around and did a few of those post-holiday and pre-holiday errands; and stopped at the grocery store, to stock up on items needed to finalize our snow storm menu.
In case you are wondering, Kate would like some white bean, sausage, and spinach soup, I a pot roast, and we both agreed to turkey sandwiches, on white bread with mayonnaise and pickles; Kate will be making our sandwiches, it is one of her many areas of expertise.
In between our trips out into the world, we came home to find our first Christmas card, and an incredibly beautiful and thoughtful, handmade wreath; what a lovely surprise! In fact, the woman who made the wreath, Paula, who is married to my cousin, has been one of the nicest surprises of this year.
Paula and her husband make care boxes for men and women on active duty. When her husband shared a picture of Paula hard at work, packing the boxes, I was first reminded of my Aunt Helen, whose church also sent care boxes overseas, and secondly, I was moved by the kind gesture. I wanted to reach out to Paula, but felt like she could not possibly want to hear anything I might have to say.
But then she invited me to join her group, Paula’s Prayer Warriors. On a good day, I am shall we say eccentric. I cannot easily check any of those little boxes, which help us to define one another, and figure out where we belong and what kind of relationship we should be having with someone else. Yet, Paula thought I was good enough to join her group; and of the many things, which I miss about my Mother, having someone to share a prayer request with, is right on top of the list.
Nevertheless, I was a bit intimidated to write Paula; we had only met once, and I remember thinking how perfect she seemed. I thought she seems so normal, in the best possible way. But like my Mother, I am quite fond of mail and appreciate the joy a note or card can bring; thus I kept thinking about how much this act of kindness would be impacting the receivers, and finally decided to reach out to Paula and find out if Kate and I might be able to help.
So I bravely wrote Paula, and oddly, as she is this person who knows and does the right thing, she wrote me back! She was kind, courteous, and accommodating; in fact she told me that my sister, Caroline, had too reached out to find out if she could contribute to the boxes.
Paula sent me her address, and we began to correspond, mostly electronically, but as we both appreciate the joy of the post office, we have also interacted through real mail!
Perhaps it is the medium in which we communicate, but as Paula and I began writing each other, we seemed to have let down any and all pretension, and just honestly talk not only about our lives today, but about our past, our families, and the family we share. Again, I have thrown caution to the wind with Paula and I just keep being honest with her, and oddly she keeps answering me!
We do have cast of common characters involved in our narrative; and that initially helped us to catch each other up a bit on our lives. But there have been many stories to tell and pictures to share, and few moments of vulnerability, which perhaps needed to be shared, if we hoped to be known to one another.
Paula has been a gift from the Cooper Cousins. A little over two years ago, I started a private group on Facebook; initially it was to make contact with my cousins, on my Mother’s side of the family. It has grown to include aunts and uncles, as well as nieces, nephews, in-laws, second and third cousins, and almost anyone else who is related.
My initial desire was to share the photographs I have, to make sure they were out there, available to anyone who wanted access to them; and of course I also hoped other family members would share their pictures, as well. The site has been good, and oddly, one of my favorite pictures, shared by someone else, was actually shared by my cousin, William, Paula’s husband!
(Me, William, Joy, and Caroline)
I am in no way speaking for Paula, but I would say we have both had a year marked by bitter-sweet moments. We have both lost people we have loved and cared for this year, and we have both enjoyed the pleasures of the road, and the sheer delight of spending time with the children in our life that we so love. We have also just lived our life, spending time with family and friends, running errands, and doing chores. We have spent time in prayer for those we know and for those who have shared a need. We have had good days and bad days, and somehow, we have decided that even at this stage of life, we are open to the pleasure of making a new friend, even if, at least for me, the fear of rejection always looms.
This past month, Leona, my Mother’s friend of over 50 years passed away. Their friendship had its share of ups and downs, but they truly and deeply loved and cared for each other; and were fierce prayer partners.
Kate grieved Leona’s death with me, as Kate too spent time with Leona, as she did with Pat, and Sister Becerra, and Tursia, all of my Mother’s closest and dearest friends. My Mother treasured her friends; and despite the fact that her friends lived miles apart from each other, telephone calls were insanely expensive, and time spent together was difficult to arrange, my Mother always did what she could to maintain and sustain those relationships. My Mother taught me many things, which matter, including how important our friends are. I am grateful to God that Kate was able to meet all of the women who meant so much to my Mother, and to break bread with more than one or two of them, with my Mother – friends matter.
Leona’s passing means the last of my Mother’s friends are gone; I grieve all of their losses. Kate and I have shared our sorrow over Leona’s passing, and she has comforted me while I cried over this heartache, which impacted me deeper than I could have known.
But Paula has also grieved with me over Leona’s death, and offered me comfort, for which I am most grateful. I love my friends; I think of my friends like family. As we get older, one of the things which we must bear is that our friends and family begin to pass away; and frankly it is not easy to do all of the work required to catch a new person up on decades of life; but I think I have made a new friend. Yes, we are also family, but more importantly, I really do feel like I can pretty much tell Paula anything, and she is going to roll with it and still answer my notes. I am feeling very blessed and so pleasantly surprised. Thank you Paula; and I hope this storm passes you by. That Is All For Now.