For those of you who have read this before, I apologize. I’m trying to get the text and the image to publish on the same page. Wordpress can be unpredictable.
John Gibson arrived at my apartment for what we refer to as ‘salon.’ But before we were to commence our usual shenanigans, he needed to sit down and read prayers for a very sick friend. I lowered the lights, and for several minutes, John read blessings off his computer. He closed with the prayer that repeats a comforting concept when a person’s about to leave this earth: World without end.
Within the hour, John was belly down like a reptile looking for a diamond earring I had just dropped on the floor. And I was right beside him. We tried corralling it with a dust mop. When that didn’t work, I got up and retrieved a flashlight that needed new batteries before we could use it. Every dimmer in the apartment was turned to high. All the while, I kept lamenting, “That’s what I get for showing them to you. God, I feel like my sister, Gretchen.”
After my mother died, Richard, her long-lost-half-brother drove from Wichita to southern Missouri to treat my three siblings and I to lunch. In a state of unspoken grief, we mostly stared out the window at a manmade lake and golf course with grass so smooth I assumed it was fake too.
Gretchen, the youngest, got up to go to the bathroom. After an unusually long time, she returned looking as if she’d witnessed something worse than what we were repressing. In a breathy hush, she said, “I took off my diamond ring to wash my hands and when I went to put it back on, it wasn’t there. I think it went down the drain.”
I stood and followed her to the bathroom. Our waiter and the hostess came in to see what all the fuss was about. A uniformed member of the maintenance crew joined us with a big light and a plumber’s snake. He eventually fetched more tools and went about the removal of the drain pipe. Her ring was not there. At least thirty minutes into this fiasco, we returned to our uncle who looked as if he remembered the reason for his absence.
Still crawling around on the floor at the end of this tale, I said to John , “Gretchen found the ring by her kitchen sink, exactly where she’d left it.”
“Where’s the damn earring box?” John commanded.
“I heard the diamond tinkle across the floor, John.”
“I don’t even know what we’re looking for. I need to see the other one.”
Once again, I hoisted myself from a prone position, got the little white box and handed it to him. Both diamonds were inside. It was one of the screw backs that I’d heard scamper out of sight.
With John reciting prayers for his dying friend, and Gretchen’s birthday within a few days, yet thirteen years after her tragic death, there was plenty of grief in the air. That is, if one had the courage to face it. Instead, I pulled a Gretchen: false loss, big panic. I don’t claim the technique to be particularly desirable, but in a so-called world without end, it’s comforting to recognize a glint of her in me.