I believe in Angels.
When Marny was still alive, she encouraged me to smile. It brightened my face, she told me. I learned later, in her last days, that it is also ok to cry. When I would try to hold back tears, she wouldn’t let me. She told me to let it all out. I didn’t want to cry in front of her. I wanted to be strong for her, but even as she lay dying, she was taking care of me and there was no stopping her. She couldn’t lift a spoon to her mouth, but Marny’s strength was something that can’t be matched..
I worked in her garden the summer before she died of cancer. I loved looking at my hands that summer. They were like her life. There was dirt underneath my fingernails and there were scratches from vines, and there were splinters in my palms from the garden tools. I had scratches all over my arms from stubborn weeds. There were fire ant bites and broken nails and filthy palms. Sometimes the dirt worked its way up to my elbows, and when I would scratch my nose I’d get dirt there too. The smudges were Mother Nature’s makeup.
My hands matched her life. I had dirt underneath my fingernails; she had dirt beneath her soul; stabilizing her rough life and the ground on which she stood. She worked hard, and plain soap wasn’t going to wash that off: that dirt was there to stay, it had become a part of her, rooted to her soul by tough plants. Like my hands, she had scratches all over her life from thick vines that tried to control her, thin vines that left welts, and thorny vines that dug deep and clung to her. She had deep, piercing splinters that could only be retrieved from digging, digging, and more digging. She’d been bitten countless times by big red ants-and she had sucked the poison out and moved on. She had knelt on the ground and gone elbow deep in mud and mire, pulling people out, because she didn’t mind getting dirty, as long as the job got done. She exposed herself to all the harshest weather and remained upright through the blowingest winds, the wettest rains, and the stormiest storms.
Nothing could destroy my Marny; nothing could defeat my beautiful, graceful Marny. She may have been removed from this world, but I am so thankful she made me strong like her so I can weather all the storms in my life. I know I’ll come out of the my storms slightly worn, slightly beaten-but overall, stronger and no worse for the wear.
December 22, 2004. The day that began the rest of my life. The day Marny left her own body and became forever a part of my soul.
I believe in Angels, and I believe I worked for one.
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