A Daily Kiss
In a tiny village nestled in Romania’s eastern hills, two women start up the street as the sun slides toward the horizon. Little has changed here since Columbus sailed west, and these two look as if they could have stepped out of any chapter in their village’s history. Arm-in-arm they walk, bending from age and the steep incline. Each carries a shopping bag on her free arm, laden with fresh bread, and staples from the local market. One woman wears a plain blue sweater, the other a yellow one embroidered with pink flowers. The ends of their head scarves flutter in the breeze.
Each woman’s step, leisurely but purposeful, is measured to the other’s until, halfway up, they stop at the door of one of the thatched cottages that lines the street. “Well, Maria,” the woman in the blue sweater says, “here we are.”
“Yes,” Maria nods. “Another day.”
The women became best friends when they were children playing together. Today, they kiss each other on each cheek, a ritual of affection they have followed daily for more than fifty years.
“Good night, Elena.”
“Good night, Maria. Sleep well.”
“And you. See you tomorrow.”
Maria disappears into her house; Elena continues alone up the street. At the summit she pauses a moment under the arbor that shades her front door. She inspects the green, embryonic grapes hanging like lace on the vines. So far, they look good. Better than last year, she tells herself as she opens the cottage door.
Once inside, Elena fills the kettle – still marveling at water that runs from the tap installed five years ago – and sets it on the stove. She makes coffee; when it’s ready she carries the delicate cup and saucer to her rocker, where she settles down to rest and sip.
Shadows lengthen on the threadbare rug. Now that she has finished her coffee, Elena knows it’s time to make dinner. Soon her son and his wife will be home. But first, she slips to the floor, kneels and bows her head.
“Blessed Lord in Heaven, You have carried me through birth and death, and through loss and gain. I praise You for your grace and your mercy. Please show your saving power to Maria. Let her know You as I have come to know You.”
Her prayer, familiar as a kiss on the cheek, rises to heaven, and Elena smiles. Once again, she has entrusted her dearest friend to her Father. One of these days….
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