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  • She was quiet. So quiet. She lived a quiet life in a quiet town and I often marveled at that.

    Was I the only one who knew?

    I loved visiting her because I felt whole there with her, whole like I never felt anyplace else, although that wholeness, of late, has been seeping into the rest of my life and filling me with a peace I never would have dreamed I could attain. No, in my younger days I was sure my life would be filled non-stop with unease and anxiety and dissatisfaction. I never, in my wildest of hopeful dreams, could have imagined this.

    I have visited her many times over the years, these days every morning, but it is one of the first visits I remember most. That afternoon changed my life in ways I can only see now, now that time and perspective has allowed me to realize more fully the impact it had on me.

    She moved carefully, slowly, deliberately, as she moved in the kitchen to fix us some tea and a plate of sweets. Always smiling, like she knew a secret nobody else knew and it was the most wonderful secret ever. Returning with her tray she placed it on the small wooden table between us and sat down, looking so tiny and delicate in that big overstuffed chair, then closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them she looked up at me but it was no normal look, it was a look that disconcerted me at first but which I eventually became accustomed to. She gazed not at me but through me, talked to me but also to some wider audience I could not see. Yet I did not feel disregarded, on the contrary, in her presence I felt seen like no where else.

    On that afternoon she spoke more than usual and allowed me to speak not at all. Something was different, I could tell. There was an urgency about her speech that was uncharacteristic, as if my life depended on what she told me and time was of the essence. Now that I look back I realize it was true, I had been teetering on the edge of darkness longer than I could remember and it is most probable that I could have soon tumbled into that deep pit of sadness and unknowing, never to emerge again, not in this lifetime anyway. She launched into her imploring diatribe, and I stiffened into high alert and listened intently. These days I feel so grateful that I still had my wits about me and enough sense to pay attention at that point. When I think what I could have missed, well, I shudder to imagine.

    What she told me that day poured over me like bucket of icy spring water, waking me from a deep sleep. Thankfully, some part of me knew that everything she said was true even though it flew in the face of the very carefully woven fabric of my imagined existence and tore it to shreds. I was shaken and shattered yet somehow I knew this harsh deconstruction was necessary. I would start again. In the days and months and years that followed I began remembering things, important things, things I'd known all along but had forgotten. Somehow she had broken through the firewall of my zombie-like existence and let loose a deluge of life altering truths. Once unleashed there was no going back.
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