Sunday, September 23, 2007

Receiving gifts

Rainy days and Sundays.

The air is saturated with cool waters. Each drop of rain carries a premonition, a hint of winter snows to come. Water logged leaves droop from branches and carpet the grass with golden colour. Autumn mist hangs in the air and I am warm and toasty indoors.

Something has shifted in me. Something profound and deep. Labels escape me. Descriptors vanish with the falling rain.

I had friends for dinner last night. On Friday night, when C.C. asked what I was cooking, I told him I wasn't sure.

"I have something I'd like to make," he said.

Surprised, I asked him what and he went on to describe the meal he'd like to prepare for my friends.

And he did.

We spent the afternoon shopping, wandering from market to market searching for the perfect ingredients for the repast. Selecting wines, flowers.

I set the table, flowers, candles.

He busied himself in the kitchen.

Very different for me. I love to cook. Never had a man walk into my kitchen and tenderly prepare a meal for me to share with those I love. It was very special. Very soothing. And fun!

With the Osso Bucco simmering, the salad chilling and the appetizers ready to be popped into the oven, we had a few minutes before the guests arrived. C.C. and I sat in the living room. A few days before he'd brought me a book to read that he'd enjoyed. A suspense novel. Eager, clever detective pitted against a conniving assassin. Enjoyable fare. Perfect for late night, before I fall asleep reading.

C.C. picked up the book and asked, "Shall I read to you? You're at Chapter 7."

And that's when I felt the tilt. The sliding open of possibility, the easing in of trust.

No one has ever read to me before -- at least not that I can remember. No one has simply picked up a novel I've been enjoying and given me the gift of hearing their voice speak the words.

It was divine.

The last time I read the pages of a novel to someone was when my father lay on life support after his heart gave out and he moved into that space of drawing his next breath leading to his last. He was conscious enough to know I was there. Everyone else had gone to sleep on couches and chairs in the family room. I didn't want to leave his side. I wanted to be there, just in case, this breath was the last. I wanted to know something. I wanted him to tell me something I needed to hear. I couldn't leave his side.

A love of books was something my father and I shared. He was an awesome writer, a voracious reader and yet, a man of few words. As he lay on the hospital bed, the steady whirr of the machinery keeping him alive pulsing monotonously in the background, I picked up a novel on the nightstand and began to read. And read. And read. I had no idea of the words I was reading, I just knew I couldn't stop.

My father lay on the bed, his eyes closed, his hands resting by his sides, the tubes and wires streaming from his body the only link separating him from this world to the next. It was a moment filled with possibilities, filled with the hope that with forgiveness, all is possible.

It was the only time I was alone with my father before he died. The only chance I had to tell him I was sorry for not honouring the gift he'd given when he planted the seed of my life. It was the only chance I had to tell him I forgive him for not having honoured the gift of me as well. It was our final moments together.

C.C. read to me last night and in that moment I connected again to the possibilities of every moment to bring fresh breaths, new opportunities, awakening spirit. I loved being read to. Loved listening to C.C.'s voice, calm and assured lifting the words off the page and setting them free in the air around me.

And with the words he spoke, my resistance to receiving the gift of someone else's caring shifted.

Something profound has shifted within me. No words come as I settle into the knowing that anything is possible when I let go of fighting against the gifts that permeate the world around me.

The question is: Are you willing to accept the gifts the universe has to offer? Are you willing to open yourself up through trusting whatever comes to you is a gift. Good, bad, or indifferent, the value is not in the thing, the value is in how you receive it.

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