There’s a little poem
going around on the Web, and as far as I know, the author is
unknown. My best friend sent it to me some time ago and, in
essence, it told me that God has blessed an angel with fairy
dust and tucked it into my pocket to guide me lovingly until the
That angel’s name is anonymous because she made me promise not
to mention it on my Web Site. So, let’s call her Frannie.
How to describe Frannie? We met about 14 years ago when we were
both working for a major nonprofit. I don’t know what she
thought of me, but with her pale blonde hair, cool good looks
and sophistication, I took her to be a snob.
And I have a picture of her to prove it: barefoot, tousled hair
beneath a faded sunhat, grungy jeans with a spade in her hand -
grinning - as she kneels in the dirt of her cherished gardens.
It’s been 14 years since I took that photo and it speaks volumes
about the woman whose M.O. on this earth seems to be to nurture
– lost souls, gangly plants, stray dogs.
Our relationship started when she saw that my desk plants were
drooping. She insisted on taking them home, along with everyone
else’s in the office, and reviving them.
I said, “Whatever floats your boat,” and thought she might have
heart after all.
It’s too far back to remember how it progressed – maybe a lunch
or two – but the plants came back happy and our friendship began
Over the years, we have griped and groaned over our losses,
crowed over and compared our gains and even traveled together,
singing rock and roll at the top of our lungs with the car
windows rolled down.
Like oil and water, she has a lightness of being and a wonderful
husband and family; I take life way too seriously and am a
But, as they say, opposites attract.
I have been there for her when familial problems threatened to
swallow her up, and she has been there for me through every
major and minor crisis in my life. Our relationship is well
depicted in a piece of art that she made while going through her
stained glass phase.
I told her over lunch one day that for my birthday I wanted to
buy a stained glass window with my favorite flower on it: the
bearded iris. She got the strangest look on her face and
encouraged me to draw it on a napkin.
I had some wild idea that the irises would be red, to match my
bathroom, and there would be two irises entwined.
Moments later, smiling in an other-worldly way, she invited me
to her car where she pulled out the most beautiful piece of
stained glass I’d ever seen. I was stunned. One light purple
iris seemed to be extending its undulating green arm down to the
dark iris below it; pulling it up, holding or dancing with it.
“I was already making this for you,” she beamed. “Pretty
It now hangs on my window where I imagine that she is the light
iris pulling me, the brooding iris, up, up to the light . . .
A writer must write what is in her heart. And, so, I offer you
There is a reason I introduced you to Frannie. Last week, with
the help of my dear veterinarian, I had my ailing 13-year-old
cat, Truffle, partner and love of my life, put down.
I haven’t been able to write a word until today. There are few
words for grief. But what I will tell you is this: Frannie was
there, holding me, helping me as I absorbed the love coursing
through her fingertips and transferred it to my beloved feline
She has done this for me twice and no amount of money or
promises could ever repay the debt I owe her.
If this report saddens you, rest assured that it is a final
tribute to my muse, Truffle, who sat beside me as I wrote every
word of my upcoming book StarWords.
He is at rest in the memorial garden at my house, along with
three other of his playmates. His ceramic image beckons to me
from the impatiens, zinnias and petunias I have planted there
beside a bird bath. And when the dappled sun filters through the
giant ceanothus overhead, warming his inanimate figure, we speak
to each other - not through words, but through heartstrings . .
Inspiration: Truffle hung in there – to the amazement of
the vet who called him “Miracle Cat” - until the end of my
writing StarWords. As you read this column, the book is
on its way to the printer!
P.S. If you or anyone you know is riding the roller coaster of
grief, I urge you to get them or yourself a copy of “Healing
After Loss: daily meditations for working through grief” by
Martha Whitmore Hickman. It has helped me through the loss of my
parents, friends and fur people.