Miranda Gray had quietly celebrated her 62nd birthday a week ago, treating herself to a bakery-made double-chocolate cake with fudge frosting. Jim wouldn’t have approved, but since his death a month ago, she was prone to frivolous spending to fill the empty space in her heart. This was a poor substitute for his hearty presence, but a least it was something that gave her a little pleasure.
After the fanfare of funeral home visitations, the church memorial service, the written thank-you notes and the returned food dishes was over, Miranda had longed for peace and quiet. She had spent a week sorting through Jim’s clothing, keeping his lounging robe only. She could still smell him on the garment and was not ready to give that up. Then she had spent another few days reflecting on their 50-year childless marriage, cherishing the photo albums, love letters and souvenirs from their times together. It hurt too much, though, so she packed it all away, even as she attempted to pack away her sorrow.
Well-wishers and concerned friends began coming over, until it seemed that if Miranda heard her doorbell one more time, she would yank the bell’s wires off the wall!
She hadn’t intended to shut herself off from everyone, at first. But her cousin, Lindy, wasn’t one to have a brief visit, so Miranda had ducked behind a curtain, not up to having company yet. The “yet” extended through a succession of worried church and family members as she devised ways to avoid answering her doorbell. It had become a game after that. She savored the prospective visitors even while refusing to let them in. That way, she could keep her grief to herself, she didn’t have to get dressed or meet anyone’s expectations, and she could live her life vicariously through those who came to her door.
Miranda slipped into her favorite hideaway behind the couch and peered through the curtains like a peeping Tom.
“Bessie Shot, as I live and breathe! We haven’t seen each other in twenty years!”
Miranda watched the would-be guest walk away and then spent the rest of the afternoon spinning yarns about Bessie’s life.
The following day, neighbor Paula Adams followed up the “Ding-dong” with loud, sharp knocks on the door, startling a smothered scream out of Miranda. While her would-be visitor’s sandals clacked back down the sidewalk, Miranda brought out the tea tray to have a cup of tea, a donut, and a one-sided conversation with Paula, discussing the weather, the state of the country and little bits of this and that.
“Drat! Can’t they understand I don’t want company?”
Nevertheless, it was becoming an addiction, this make-believe world she had created. At least it was something she could control and kept her from feeling the heartbreak of Jim’s desertion. Maybe tomorrow she would stop. . .
Miranda couldn’t see who was at the door from her usual spot, so a minute later she opened the door a crack. Nobody was there! Caught unaware by blinding sunlight left over from the morning’s sunrise. and sticking her head out of the door like a reluctant turtle, she saw, on the steps beneath her, a little basket filled with the most beautiful bouquet of pansies she had ever seen. Dew-dropped tiny bubbles shone on their petals, velvety wonders of purple, yellow, blue, and red beckoning her. Picking the basket up, she read the attached “Happy May Day” childish-scripted tag, followed by a smothered giggle behind the mulberry bush where only a youngster could hide, a yellow frilly dress ruffle peeking through the foliage.
“Why, what beautiful flowers! I wonder if a little fairy brought them?” Miranda’s face breaking into a smile for the first time in a month.
True to May Day rules, the “fairy” did not reveal herself. Miranda ducked back inside and quickly opened her picture window’s heavy drapes just in time to see a flash of yellow as the little girl skipped away, her darling ringlets trailing behind her.
Suddenly, the house was oppressively dark and all the drapes and blinds had to be released so Miranda could better admire the pansies.
“Oh, God, You’re still here after all! Forgive me for forgetting Your presence and Your love!”
Miranda Gray began to truly heal on that May Day several years ago. She has replaced her sorrow with a ministry called “Pansies At Your Door,” reaching out to new widows in her community.
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