‘Return to Sender,’ read the yellow sticker plastered over my friend’s name on the envelope I’d addressed and mailed a couple of weeks before Christmas, ‘Insufficient Address, Unable to Forward.’
Saturday would have been our daughter Ruth’s eighteenth birthday. Instead, it marks the ten years she’s been gone. What more is there to say? Except that I am still unable to comprehend her absence. Not a day goes by that I don’t imagine how she might look, what hurdles she might have overcome, what goals she might have held for her future.
“Whatever you do, don’t get a golden retriever,” my mom said. “They shed too much.” For once, my preternaturally insightful mom was wrong. Not about the shedding. Sushi, the happy-go-lucky, 2-year-old golden retriever we adopted from a breeder shed like a kennel full of dogs. On Nair. What she was wrong about was the not getting her.
A shriveled up section fell off my kitchen Christmas cactus this past winter. It looked dead. Undaunted, my first-grade son scooped up the broken section, stuck it in a jelly jar of water and set it in a window. There it sat – week after week after week – looking sad and hopeless. My son watered it, but I didn’t see any visible change. Last week I was about to throw it away. But when I picked up the jar, I spotted two red nubs on the tip of a fat leaf. This plant – which looked lifeless – had grown roots! Thin white ventricles spread across the bottom of the glass, reaching for the water. As soon as I showed my delighted son, he filled the jar with soil and set it back in the window to grow.