–Since my sister, Kay’s, murder, I’ve received numerous emails, books of poetry, and comforting cards from the most unexpected people. I find it
absolutely astounding that women I’ve never met face to face & skin to skin have reached out to me.
One such woman was author, Beryl Singleton Bissell, whose daughter, Francesca, was also murdered.
I was surprised she actually read my blogs, which I must confess, have opened up connections and relationships I never thought possible.
Here’s what she wrote:
I just posted a comment on your blog post. I am writing personally to remind you that I am here for you and not that far away that we couldn’t meet at my home or in Duluth should you wish. Loss like yours needs a listening, compassionate, understanding heart. I hope you have many such listening, loving hearts to help hold and perhaps ease your sorrow. My phone number is ————-
Love, Beryl Singleton Bissell
My heart performed a somersault after reading Beryl’s email.
Immediately, I knew I wanted to meet her.
Our book club had already read her memoir, The Scent of God, which she had written with profound truthfulness about her life as a nun in Italy, her desire to become a Saint, and her passionate love affair with the beloved priest, Padre Vittorio.
Nun? Did you say priest? Affair? Oh, My!
Utterly Thornbirdy, wouldn’t you say?
I knew this woman & I already adored her.
Continually, I find myself attracted to people who are authentic and beautifully flawed.
I arrived at Beryl’s home, which rested snuggly on the shores of Lake Superior on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
I was anxious & fidgety standing at her door-step. I mean, I wonder if she doesn’t like me?
There. She. Was.
Radiant. Smiling. Welcoming.
We hugged for a long time. The kind of hug where you understand the same kind of pain and shade and grief.
She led me into her lovely kitchen where she was preparing grilled salmon, string beans, small red tomatoes, warm (was is cardamom bread?) and homemade ice tea w/ limes.
And I thought, ‘O’, sometimes the simple things in life are the greatest kind of healing.
We ate our lunch outdoors listening to the waves brush softly against the rocks.
We talked about Kay, Francesca, life, death, and God. We talked about loneliness and love.
She told me about “centering prayer,” a practice she studied with the Benedictine nuns.
“I’ve found my home in this kind of prayer,” she softly said. “This kind of prayer has helped me move onward.”
We walked around her magnificent grounds and swung on her massive wooden swing.
She showed me Francesca’s grave site, which was blanketed with pink shells and several kinds daisies, petunias, and begonias.
I remember thinking, “I wonder if Francesca has met Kay yet?”
“Will you bring me to your writing studio,” I finally asked.
“Of course,” she smiled.
She worked from a small shed she had purchased from a writing retreat.
I was a rock-star groupie, a child in a candy store, the new student in the classroom.
So, this is what a real writing studio looks like.
So, this is what real manuscripts smell like.
I inhaled slowly, deeply.
Beryl told me her friend, Ann Patchett, loved ‘The Scent of God” so much that she passed it on to her own agent.
“Wow,” I said. “She really believed in you.”
“We all need somebody to believe in us,” she smiled again.
For a while, joy seeped back to me in tiny fragments.
I had forgotten what it felt like… my old life, my carefree days before Kay’s heart stopped.
Before I made my way back to Duluth, we ate slices of rhubarb cake that my mother had baked for Beryl for this special meeting.
We hugged again at the door.
This time, a little tighter, more familiar.
This time, recognizing that if Beryl made it thru those darkest hours, those blackest days, perhaps I could.
Perhaps I could, too.
–Dear, Reader, who would you love to meet that you haven’t met yet? Somebody famous? Another blogger? Writer? Who inspires you?
Beryl’s Book: The Scent of God: http://www.amazon.com/The-Scent-God-A-Memoir/dp/1582433615