Monday, September 24, 2012


My grandmother, “Nana,” taught me two very important things.

When I was a child, she taught me the first thing. It was a trick she showed kids in Sunday school. She took a pickle jar full of water, and said “This is the world.” Then she put some kind of dark dye in it, so it turned black. “This is sin in the world.” Then she took a little felt sheep on a string – it had some kind of powder sewn inside – and she dunked it in the jar. The water became clear. When she pulled the sheep out, it was still pure and white.

When I was an adult, she taught me the second thing. “A fire,” she said, “is a tree giving us the gift of all of the sunrises and sunsets it has seen growing up.”

Nana was dying in a hospice, beside a window with one of her favourite views of the hills. The rest of the family had gone for lunch – everyone had spent long hours by her bed, and it was my turn to stay.

Her breathing was ragged and she was comatose. For about an hour I held her hand and sang to her, giving back all of the songs I could remember her singing to me as a child.

When the rest of the family returned, we told her that everyone was with her. Then she left us.

It came to me what the two things – that happened so far apart in my life – meant.

Like the little felt sheep, I can be immersed in the darkness of my illness, and emerge unchanged.

No matter how imperfect I am, I have seen a lot of sunrises and sunsets, and have light to share with the world.

1 comment:

Nathalie said...

D'Arcy, this post is beautiful (and so true). Thank you.