Blessed to have known her
Blessed to have loved her
Beloved wife, sister, mother.
I rearranged the colors before clicking print. When the finished product printed, I stapled it to a sheaf of pre-written papers.The pink paper seemed to pale as I glared at it.
Blaine Jensen was on her way.
Ann Jensen had much more to life. Not all of it good and not all of it bad, mostly in between, trying her best every time she fell. I felt it from the photo.
What I'd written was correct, but I'd removed all emotion from the words, just as her family had done at the funeral.
Rebellion itched at my fingertips and I grabbed a post-it notepad and red pen.
Your soul was our sunshine
The sadness had flown
You gave of your heart
May this be known
Angel of a mother, wife and daughter.
I didn't reconsider as I redid the item with the new verse.
There was a quiet knock on the door.
Old Mr. Svens stood uncertainly in the tiny doorway, brown fedora held to his chest. “Beggin' yer pardon',” He began. “My nephew's dog been missin' fer awhile, an'-” He held out a battered picture and I snatched it from wrinkled fingers.
Memories seeped into my head like the downpour that had drowned my ivy beds. “Name?” I muttered, closing my eyes.
“Johnny.” His voice brightened. “Your gift workin'?”
“Jonathan.” I corrected. “You gave him the dog?”
“Buy him a new one.” I gave the photo a light toss in the direction of his voice, turning to the keyboard.
This gift of gold
Is a memory
A single pearl
Cut from my soul
Beloved companion of Jonathan.
I typed the words on a bone-shaped template and clicked print. When it printed, I scribbled my signature on the bottom, stapling it to a standard order form. “Give this Tak at the engraving room. No charge.”
A trembling hand brushed my shoulder. “God bless, ma'am.” He whispered, taking the form and shuffling towards the side door.
Blaine burst through the doorway, expensive perfume stinking up my workspace. “Did you finish mother's plaque?”
Color drains from her face as she reads my revision. I know she will not dare question this. Wordlessly she writes the check, handing it over with a barely audible word of thanks.
The next customer is Miss June Carlson.
She is standing perfectly straight, her nose is the air as she hands over a tiny, black and white photo.
For once, the cruelty of my own handiwork leaves me wordless.
The kind, wistful face stares up at me.
“Your inscription?” My voice is wooden as my powers go to work again. Memories flood in, and I see her as the free woman she never could be.
June sniffs. “I never could stand the woman and I will never forgive her for leaving us. I was raised by my father, you know. But the family must save face. Write what you want, I don't care.”
I am left staring after her as she breezes through the doorway. Her hurt is so deep and dark.
Tak bursts through the side door to his workshop. He is not happy.
Before I can speak, he glares so hard that shame touches my cheeks. “We need to pray.”
The clipped sentence is more of an order. I do not protest as he rests one hand on my shoulder and we stand, heads touching.
His prayer is simple and touching, stirring the very fabric of my gift. “We were gifted for a reason, love.” He whispers. “I am connected to you for that reason.”
I try not to scoff. My temper will strangle me if I let it.
“Your feelings are running you.”
“How can you be so calm?” I want desperately to be at the same level he is.
Tears linger in his eyes. “We cast our burdens on him. He gives us peace of mind and soul. His stability is our security. You can be calm-in Him.”
Tak whispers another prayer into my ear and leaves as I sit down to work.
I never met Marie, but with my gift, I feel as if I knew her.
Of broken hearts
And shattered dreams
Of false starts
And beautiful things
Blessed mother, wife and sister.
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