Her happy spirit visited them just in time for the holidays.
Posted in , Dec 27, 2021
Bright red mittens caught my eye as I walked past the Christmas tree. They hung side by side. On one red mitten the word Friends was stitched; on the other, Forever.
The mitten ornaments were a gift from my friend, Jackie. It was hard to believe I’d just spent my first Christmas without her. Her death had been sudden, and we still didn’t know the cause. I was stunned the day her husband, Dale, called to tell me she was gone. In some ways I was still in shock five months later.
I ran my finger over the felt mittens, remembering early days with Jackie. We worked together as children’s librarians, ever in search of ways to entertain young readers. Our puppet shows were the highlight of our efforts. Jackie was a natural, improvising to the kids’ delight. Her enthusiasm was infectious. I could almost see her now with a pig puppet on one hand, her eyes wide in panic as she called out to the audience. “What should I do? That dragon will eat me for sure!” The kids strained forward in their seats. “Run!” “Go that way!” “Look out!” “He’s coming!” That’s when I’d swoop in as the dragon. The crowd would go wild.
We loved the puppets so much that four of us started our own troupe, doing shows at schools, libraries and community centers. We performed for decades together, and Jackie never lost her sense of fun. An accomplished singer, she often added songs to her performance. I laughed out loud remembering our Tortoise and the Hare skit. Jackie played the Tortoise. As she walked oh-so-slowly across the stage, she sang at the same pace, “I-I-I’m briiingin’ home a baaaaby bumblebeeeee…” The kids cracked up.
Jackie broke into song offstage too. A trilled “tra-la-la” could mean any-thing from “hello” to “goodbye” to “what am I going to order for lunch?”
I adjusted the mittens on my tree, turning them so that Friends Forever was easy to see. I imagined Jackie in heaven now, singing with the angels, as happy and funny as she’d ever been. It was hard to accept that someone so full of energy could disappear so completely from my life.
“I love you, Jackie,” I said. I caught a whiff of something in the air. A light scent, sweet and familiar. I leaned into the boughs and took in the smell. The lovely fragrance came from the tree, but the odor wasn’t piney. It was a perfume, one I knew well—the very perfume Jackie wore. She was here, I was sure of it. Her visit lasted only a few moments, but I would never forget it. I rushed to the phone to tell her husband about it, then hesitated. Would Dale be hurt that Jackie had visited me and not him?
I vacillated for a couple days, but finally couldn’t keep it from Dale any longer. “I think Jackie visited me for Christmas,” I said. I told him what I’d experienced. Of course, he knew just the perfume I meant.
“It’s uncanny,” he said.
“Yes, it is. But I know it was her.”
“So do I,” Dale said. “You see, a couple days ago—that same day, I guess—I was reading in the living room when I heard Jackie right here at home.”
“You heard her?”
“She was skipping,” Dale said. “Skipping down the hall the way she used to. And she was singing!”
Of course she was, I thought.
“I jumped out of my chair and ran into the hall almost expecting to see her there,” Dale said. “Of course, I didn’t see her. But I know she was there in spirit.”
Jackie hadn’t disappeared from my life completely. I would see her again one day. We were friends forever. And ever.
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