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Twelve Dollars

Steam from the cup

And snow on the path

The seasons have changed

From the present to past

I knew even before I saw the white feathers, which could easily have gone unseen in the snow in a more typical Northern Illinois winter and which were strewn about the very path that I walked each morning to my beehives, that one of my hens had gone. She had been a good layer during her years at the farm. I hope she had felt the love.

The year has been complicated; it seems they all are. My thirteen-year-old wanted me to stay with him for his session on this particular day with our beloved therapist. The "career card" that I chose as we played The Game of Life happened to be "brain surgeon." Attention to board games has not been a strength of mine, but this moment piqued my interest as I was jolted back through time, reminded of one day less than eighteen years ago that a very kind and, thankfully, very skilled brain surgeon operated on our then ten-year-old son, Sam.

As the years have gone, the fear has softened. This boy, now a grown man, has gone on to pursuits that we may not have thought possible when we were wrapped in the unknown. For circles of time the brain tumor had defined us. Now, though, it is just a part of who we have become, who he has become.

I lost a friend late last year. In one of our final exchanges last fall, she bought a box of donuts from a band fundraiser for one of the boys, to donate to whomever he chose.

"Seriously, Patty. It's twelve dollars."

Those were her words when I thanked her for her kindness. Yes, it was twelve dollars. It was a box of donuts. More than that, though, it was a gesture from the depths of her soul, the soul of, now, a true angel. It was twelve dollars, but it meant a great deal to my son, and to me. Twelve dollars is a lot and a little and everything. Twelve dollars is a box of donuts donated to the shelter for an unexpected special breakfast for someone, coming from the heart of someone who gave freely with everything that she had during her time here on this earth.

And it all matters--every bit of it.

The brain surgeon came to our house a couple of years ago. He sat at the kitchen table with us and ate pasta with pesto sauce with the same hands (well, he used a fork for the pasta) that had taken the tumor out of Sam's brain when he was just a little boy. This doctor stopped to see us on his way home from visiting his child at college. We talked about airplanes and beaches and chickens and whatever else people discuss at lunches with the brain surgeon, or with anyone.

The world is full of incredible good in the tiniest of places. And it's full of sadness in the big places and the little places, too--in my chicken yard, on the roost from where my favorite little silkie rooster disappeared last night, in the therapist's room, in the unanswerable questions about things that are beyond our understanding.

It all matters: the way we love others, the second chances and benefits-of-the-doubt that we give to those where it is not often offered, the feathers on the ground that remind us of the fleeting nature of everything and everyone around us.

The past

The past

Turns whole to half

The past

Song lyrics from Feist, The Park

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