Ice blue eyes that sparkle with intelligence and life! A swirl of bohemian energy layered over an aristocracy that you were born into; wispy hairs and sloppy jeans slipping and sliding on a lean six foot tall frame. And a voice that betrayed it all, sophisticated and brilliant.
The first time that I saw you was when I was twelve. Margie and I had been told before we went to bed that some new missionaries might be arriving in the middle of the night to share our house, but as it was monsoons and pouring we had no idea if this was true. We were told to SLEEP, even though they would be arriving with three little boys and a brand new baby girl. WHAT????????????? Sleep? With a baby coming? We winked at each other as Mom blew out the lamp.
And so it happened. You arrived in a downpour and your red circle skirt, white lacey blouse and dark brown shoulder length hair were plastered to you, as you scooped up your children and rushed them into the house to undress everyone by the stove. I peeked through the door to see the baby, but it was you that I watched. You chatted and caressed each one through their whining and as they draped themselves on and around you, you wore them like a blanket. Little naked bodies, shivering and holding onto you for dear life.
Oh Rita! Little did I know how crucial you would be to my life and my soul!
Six and a half years later, Samm and I hitch-hiked up to New Hampshire from Northfield. We needed to escape so this time we were the ‘two strangers from the mud’. You greeted us with ebulliance and warmth and before the weekend was over I asked you if you knew of a summer job that might be available in the area. You shrieked with delight “Oh Francie! You must stay here with us! You can help me with the children and the horses and we’ll be friends!” And so it was set.
And so two months later, graduation and the beginning of my summer of discontent as I was struggling to live up to others’ expectations for the approaching fall.
But Rita, instead it became the summer of my epiphany. I found me after having been lost for three years. On my very first evening, after you and I had stayed up into the wee hours discussing life and philosophy and womanhood, you tucked your own precious copy of Eliot’s “Four Quartets” under my arm and sent me to bed. That was the beginning and the end. You heard and saw me, as I did you. How can two beings share their inner worlds more intimately than we? We fed, shone the light and healed each other through simple friendship and then sent each other on each’s own way.
What more is there of value on this planet I would like to know?
I recently glimpsed a photo of you that Christina posted on Facebook. You, in your white haired glory and dazzling eyes. Love does thrive forever, even when the tangible connection is no longer. It continues to feed and shine and heal. Bless you, bless you, bless you, angel mine!