© 2016 Created byJane Nicolet

Grace: Light for the Journey

December 17, 2016

 

The holiday season is upon us:  an arctic front has barreled in and the view out my window is white and quiet; downtown opens its arms beautifully, its lights playing companionably with nature’s newly dropped snowflakes; all manner of Christmas music and bell-ringing Santa's welcome us at every store; traffic is hitting its most seasonal nightmare level; parties of all sizes and shapes are ramping up . . .  and I find someone must be placing my book, Letters for Grace, in a Christmas stocking.

 

I’m my usual half hour later than the party’s start, and like any true introvert, I’m scoping out where I might sit or stand to be out of the direct line of the general party chaos (aka – joy, to party lovers), to enjoy it from outside the busiest circles.  I’m excited to see a spot that’s close to the wine but a little out of a travel pattern. How did I get so lucky, I wonder, and not wanting to lose it, I begin to wend my way over.  He intercepts me.  “So, who’s Grace?” he asks.  Yes, I know; I wrote a book with that word in the title but my eye is on the prize ahead and so the question and the guy both take me by surprise.  “I’m sorry?”  I say. 

 

“Since you’re the author of a book we were given, I thought I’d catch you and ask before I get started on it. Who are these letters for?  Is Grace your best friend? Or maybe it’s your dog. Do you have a dog named Grace.”  He ends his questions with a smile. Oh, now I get it. But, I’ve discovered that I don’t do light repartee well when I’m asked questions about the subject of my book.  And, I’ve never thought a party atmosphere lends itself easily to creating authentic connections – I guess I’ve thought that was never a party’s real purpose. Anyway, I do better with longer and less distracting discussions when I’m hoping to connect with someone seriously. Still, this man is kind enough to ask, and he has a copy of my book. So, I want to give it a try.

 

Grace, I begin telling him (and now his wife who has joined us) is actually a concept of hope-filled love, not a real person. In the book, Grace is my alter ego . . . my other side who is trying to understand what’s happened to me and what I’m meant to learn from it. Though I use a person’s name, treating her as if she is a good friend, Grace is really a metaphor for what I seek throughout the book – light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel, a bend in the road with a new course to travel.

 

So far, so good.  No yawns yet.  I go on by telling them I was trying to understand more about my son’s life and death and also figure out how I could chart a new course to reclaim a desire for living.  So I wrote letters to son, Matt, and my pretend friend, Grace, to try and accomplish that.  They became my listeners . . . my counselors, helping me search for the other Grace – the concept.

 

OK, I can see my listeners want to talk as well so I try to back out gracefully. Really, I say, the bottom line is I was on a quest for the same beauty this very season promises all of us:  unearned but ever-present love and forgiveness;  light to illuminate a new journey; the ability to believe in more than what we see around us; the undeniable knowledge that love’s power can always win . . .  Grace.

 

They thank me for the conversation with gentle smiles and I thank them for wanting to know. They talk about looking forward to a Christmas visit from their oldest daughter, and then share a little of their worry about another daughter who’s drifting away from the family.  And there is was – a real connection at a real party . . . and an important learning for me.  As we exchange holiday pleasantries and talk about meeting after they finish the memoir, it feels as if light has come into the room.

 

Jane

 

 

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