I believe in gifts. Whether grand or small they always change lives. There is no greater joy than helping to make someone happy, or contributing to someone’s well-being in some way. I believe every one of life’s milestones should be celebrated; I also believe in giving gifts for no apparent reason. A gift empowers both the giver and the receiver; it binds the two together because both giving and receiving are acts of love. Gifts can be anything: raking a neighbor’s leaves, a little holiday thank-you for the mail carrier, brownies for the office, a thought to inspire a friend left with a card, even something as simple as a kind word or an empathetic smile to a stranger. When I give somebody something, each and every smile, squeal, hug or pair of wide eyes warms my heart. But I also believe in doing something for someone without their ever having known that I have done it. As a teacher and storyteller I know that often the gifts that we give are not realized until we are long out of the other person’s life.
My Mom gave me the best gifts. She gave me the gift of life, not physically because I was adopted, but the gift of her life so completely shared with me that two souls have never been closer. She was an artist and so gave me the gifts of her perception and empathy. Those are two things we tend to forget far too often, that we are never alone and we are good enough. Stories of ourselves are gifts that teach us what treasures to look for along the path of life, where to pull strength from in the most difficult times, and most importantly, how to hold onto and nurture hope, the well spring of everything. When my Mom died only a few weeks ago, she gave me the greatest gift of all – absolute and certain knowledge of eternal life.
I was on a plane, trying to get home knowing that I might arrive too late. Sometime in the middle of the night, I suddenly knew that she was with me. A calm peace and love filled me, surrounded me and enfolded me. In that moment, I came to know several things at once. She was happy, she knew everything about my life, and that from this moment on I could find everything that I sought from her within myself. She had’t known about my boyfriend yet so I got angry for a moment and yelled at her, “Is losing you the price I pay for finding him?” Her answer was so clear. “No,” she said with pure love, “the other way around – part of the cycle of life.” I cannot tell you how it was that we communicated, or how long it lasted. But this, her last gift to me, I now pass on to you. It was she, after all, who taught me about gifts in the first place. I believe in gifts.
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