The Best Gift: An Abundance of Love

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

One of my rituals between Winter Solstice and New Year's Day is to "listen" for the word that will serve as my intention for the coming year. I don't consciously think of a word; I tune in to my inner voice for what word presents itself. This year's word, "abundance," came to me as I was journaling one December morning.  

As I wrote in this blog, I resisted the word at first, confusing it with giving, which I am as guilty as most women of overdoing. Until I looked up the definition, which includes the words "plenty," "plentifulness," and "prosperity." 

Oh, I thought, duhAbundance as in "plenty": plenty of joy, plenty of time, plenty of ideas and words and readers, plenty of money, plenty of fruitful opportunities, plenty of energy and vigor, plenty of love... 

And in fact, this year is yielding all sorts of abundance, including many that I imagined when I wrote those words: Opportunity, joy, ideas, words, readers. Not so much abundance of energy (my Lupus has definitely been more challenging this year) or money (ditto for life on the financial plane), but I am managing well anyway. 

The form of abundance that has been the biggest surprise--and gift--is the last one on the list above: love. Specifically, love from Molly, my 37-year-old "kid." (As biology sees it, she's my step-daughter; seen through the lens of the heart, she's mine, and has been since I met she and her daddy when she was three.) 

Richard and Molly on her 31st birthday, when he was recovering from his radiation treatments.

In early January. when I was off on a personal writing retreat in Santa Fe, Molly texted one night to ask if we could talk. It's been difficult for both of us since her daddy died, and she had been incommunicado for weeks. I knew something was wrong.

I had felt angry and hurt by this latest withdrawal--the longest since Richard died--but I put my feelings aside. If she needed me, I needed to listen. 

We talked. I learned that she had just separated from her partner of 12 years, a decision that took enormous courage. 

"I'm sorry I've let this come between us," she said. "I miss you."

In that moment, nothing else mattered. "I love you, and I always will. Sometimes I don't like you very much, but the love is always there."

We talked through some difficult stuff, cried, and by the time we ended the call, I felt like our healing had begun. 

In February, Molly flew to New Mexico to join me in Silver City during my Write & Retreat workshop. Those four days together were precious time. 

Me and Molly in the wind in Mesilla, New Mexico, visiting old haunts. 

Since then, it's rare that more than a few days go by without us being in touch via text, email, or phone. She says "thank you" and "I love you" often. I do too. 

Which brings me to the photo at the top of the blog post. On the way home from my regular end-of-the week run yesterday afternoon, I impulsively stopped and shot a photo of the storm clouds blowing in over distant peaks. I texted it to Molly with an "xoxo" message and then ran on. She responded with, "Beautiful. Thank you. xoxo"

Later that evening, she texted the locket photo above with this message: "Was just organizing the bathroom and found this." 

"Love it and remember dearly the moment when you guys gave it to me." 

I had forgotten the locket entirely, but as soon as I saw her photo, I remembered picking it out, finding the photos of her daddy and me, and fitting one into each tiny compartment. 

Today on the phone, Molly reminded me of when we gave her the locket: "It was for my first period. You made a celebration of it. Such a gift in a time that was very difficult. You made it special, and made me proud of myself as a young woman."

We had moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, for Richard's university position. Molly went from grade school in a Midwestern town to middle school in a much more difficult social and cultural environment. And then she got her period--it was all scary and stressful for her. So I came up with a celebration of that passage into womanhood. 

"I loved you then and I always will."

"I know that," she said. "That's my miracle."

It's mine too, Sweetie. Thank you for this abundance of love--the best possible gift of this year of abundance.

Molly and my sister-in-law, Lucy Winter