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A reminder of wonder when life is at its bleakest

By Catherine KenwellPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
Photo by J Lee on Unsplash

The ginkgo, with its delicate fan-shaped leaves, has always seemed to me a little exotic to be growing alongside everyday maples and oaks. I suppose it’s because I knew ginkgo as a healer years before I saw my first tree. Ginkgo biloba is a stalwart in traditional medicine, often recommended for mood disorders, memory problems, and inflammation. Healers, in plain sight. Magnificent.

So, when I was asked to help choose some Fran Green jewelry pieces to add to our little shop’s inventory, I happily pointed out a pair of ginkgo earrings.

“They’re perfect!” I exclaimed to Tracey, ZuZu Fashion Boutique’s owner. “I think people will like these little ginkgo leaves.”

And Tracey added them to the order.

I was away from work for a few days; my dad had passed away and we were hurriedly cleaning out his studio apartment. We donated a love seat and other pieces to the local furniture bank, and over a few days we removed almost everything; everything, that is, we’d moved in only seven weeks previously.

On our final day, my brother and I packaged up the last bits and bobs, things like soap and toilet paper and various household items that Dad hadn’t even had a chance to open. The weather was miserable; dark indigo clouds released an icy drizzle, and noon presented itself like midnight. Fall at its most depressing, a harbinger of winter’s gloom.

My brother left the apartment before I did, and I gathered up the last remnants of a short chapter of Dad’s life. I absentmindedly ate the last chocolate cookie and tossed the empty box. I opened the kitchen cupboards one more time, in the event I’d missed anything. Checked the closet. Empty. Of course, it was. Everything we’d planned, every item we tenderly curated, now gone.

I balanced the last bin against my knee as I locked the door for the final time. I’d never be coming back to ‘my Dad’s’ place. A lone tear escaped, but my hands were full. That tear rolled, first down my cheek, then to a ticklish spot on my neck, and was finally absorbed by my sweatshirt collar.

The elevator. I pushed the ‘G’ button. This was the end.

I scrambled out the front door lest I run into one of Dad’s friends or a member of the outstanding team that looked after him. I couldn’t bear another goodbye. The skies had opened once again, and rain washed the salt from the teary trail on my face. It was so dark. Dreary.

As I headed toward our black jeep, I blinked. Everything was a dismal hue, except…

Scattered on the windshield, the hood, the dark asphalt around the truck were hundreds of bright-yellow, rain-glistening ginkgo leaves. I stood, mesmerized, getting more soaked and chilled by the second. I looked around in strange disbelief, to search for their source. Sure, there was a forest and gully perhaps 30 yards away, but I could see no ginkgo tree. And my vehicle was the lone recipient of the golden gifts. What magic was this?

I was one tiny human, standing in a storm-darkened parking lot, in a busy part of the city, and I was the sole witness to a phenomenon that embraced my very soul. Those gilt gems, they are healers.

I thought about it all the way home. Once I settled, I sent a message to Tracey: those ginkgo earrings—I would really like to have them for myself. Something to touch, a talisman to remind me of love and wonder when life is at its bleakest. A healer, in plain sight.


About the Creator

Catherine Kenwell

I live with a broken brain and PTSD--but that doesn't stop me! I'm an author, artist, and qualified mediator who loves life's detours.

I co-authored NOT CANCELLED: Canadian Kindness in the Face of COVID-19. I also publish horror stories.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (1)

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  • Rick Henry Christopher ☄️🔥about a year ago

    Beautiful story. I really enjoyed your basic yet touching writing style. Very good!!!

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