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Celebrate Life

by Kelly Herndon about a year ago in humanity
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Facing fear to fully live

Celebrate Life
Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Miranda squinted up at the man approaching. Annoyed by the disturbance in her brief moments of soaking up sunshine, she raised from her perch on the porch to greet him. He was grinning, bounding toward her, a sharp contrast to her inner turmoil, though you wouldn’t be able to tell from looking at her. Miranda was dressed like a carefree summer day. Her long, curled, shiny locks spilled around her shoulders while her yellow floral dress danced in the light breeze.

Barefoot, she walked a few steps toward the stranger but not releasing her eye on him. Why was he so happy? She tried to soften her eyes with a smile that said, “how can I help you?” but the smile never made it to her lips. No need to worry; he would take care of that.

“Miranda Green?” he asked excitedly.

“Yes?” she responded reservedly.

“I’m about to make your day!”

Inwardly, Miranda rolled her eyes while outwardly she simply lifted her brows inquisitively.

“Another salesman! Ugh! Leave me alone,” she thought.

Unfazed by Miranda’s lack of excitement, the man continued.

“Ten years ago, you made quite an impression on my client, and now she wants to give you something in return.”

Miranda shifted her weight and cocked her head with curiosity. He introduced himself as Tom Grant, an attorney from California representing the estate of Helen Johnson. This information didn’t mean anything to Miranda, but she invited him to sit at her porch table to explain further.

“Helen Johnson was from right here in Wichita but moved out to California about nine years ago. She met you at Lilies the year before she moved.”

As he spoke, Miranda cycled through the events in her life from ten years ago. It was a time when things were a blur. Her marriage was a little rocky; their finances were stretched, their house was a never-ending project, and their children were 6, 7, and 10 years old. It wasn’t a bad time at all, just exhausting to complete daily tasks. She also worked part-time at a floral shop called “Lilies.” Whirling faces from her memory, she did not recall anyone named Helen.

Encouraged by the blank look on Miranda’s face, Tom pulled a manilla envelope from his messenger bag while continuing.

“Helen passed away about six months ago, and I’ve been in town working the estate will with her family. To help you understand, I’ll have you read this letter Helen wrote as part of her will documents five years ago.”

Miranda fumbled with the envelope and letter and clumsily pulled down her reading glasses from atop her head.

Dear Miranda,

It was February 1, 2011, when I came into Lilies Flower Shop. I was a lonely widow who wanted to purchase some flowers to brighten my home (and my life) before my 70th birthday. It was my first birthday without my husband since we married 50 years prior.

You were an angel to me that day. In the midst of helping me choose an elegant arrangement, you cried with me while I lamented my upcoming birthday alone. You encouraged me to reach out to my friends and family and celebrate with them on my birthday. You spent an hour listening to me and sitting with me over tea while you were working! You reminded me how much more living there was to do with my family and friends still here and what a gift my husband was.

I don’t usually ask others to celebrate me - but this time, I did! And it was lovely! It was a turning point for me! I was determined to celebrate life and live to the fullest beginning that day! You gave me the courage to ask others in and LIVE again.

Since then, I moved closer to my family (on the beach! Talk about LIVING!) and began my dream of painting! Something I never made time for before!

Thank you, dear Miranda, for your kind words of empathy and encouragement to a grieving widow that didn’t think she would LIVE again.

May you be reminded today to celebrate life and LIVE fully.

Love,

Helen

Wiping tears away, Miranda smiled at Tom. She remembered that day very well. Helen made an impact on her that day. Miranda left Lilies that February day and went home and forgave her husband and resolved to be a sweeter, gentler wife. It turned their marriage around.

“Thank you so much for bringing this to me,” Miranda whispered. “I remember.”

Tom smiled. Clearly, he loved this part of his job.

“There’s a little bit more,” he paused dramatically, embracing the moment.

Miranda had finished wiping her tears and expected to sign a receipt of delivery of the letter.

“Helen wrote four other letters, similar to yours, but each with a different remembrance of encouragement she’d gained from the person. She set aside $20,000 for you because she knew that sometimes it’s financially risky to live fully.” He paused again, knowing his words would be heavy to bear.

“So, I have a check from her to you.” He continued smiling while watching Miranda’s face go through a series of emotions: Love, surprise, delight, sadness, love, gratitude.

Tom handed her the $20,000 check.

“There are no stipulations. Only to celebrate life and live fully.”

Gob-smacked by the whole of it, Miranda numbly went inside and scooped up the small black notebook she used for moments of inspiration just like these.

She sat back down on her porch and began sketching a portrait of beautiful Helen on a beach.

Just as she finished the sketch, her husband came home and greeted her with a kiss.

“I’m so glad to see you sketching again! It’s been a while! I guess you found your inspiration today sitting out here!”

As he walked into the house, Miranda smiled giddily and looked at her sketch of Helen. Taking her pencil, she artfully lettered, “Live fully” across the bottom.

humanity

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Kelly Herndon

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