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Light-Years in the Dark | StoryPoems

PRESENCE

She was known for her collection of unusual things. Wherever she traveled she brought back objects of art to her home. Wood carvings, polished stones, intricate weavings, blown glass, sculpted metals. People said she had an eye for beauty, a gift for finding the truly unique. But she was not interested in what others thought. She collected for herself. Each item represented a desirable moment at some juncture in her life. The arbitrary value people placed on these objects was immaterial when it came to her selection. For example, one expressionist painting was estimated to be worth millions now that the painter had been discovered by reputable dealers; whereas a shell found on a beach, collected simply for its rare coloration and shape, and costing nothing, was still her most treasured find. She was an old woman by the time her heart faltered and she was placed in a nursing home by her children at the advice of physicians. She felt no bitterness about their decision. Instead, she surprised everyone by freely dispensing with all her collectable wealth. She gave her things to family and friends, donated some, and auctioned away the rest. Except for one special gift to herself, kept by her bedside where she could easily reach it. The striations of color were somewhat hazy and the touch of its form not as smooth or defined, but the memory of a softly lighted beach with her children at play, splashed by blue and salty waves; it was very clear. And the tears as they slowly found their way down her cheeks touched her in a way never before felt. There on the sand where she had fallen in love, the place where his ashes had left her hand for the wind, and where, buried in those same infinite granules, she found with a random sweep of her hand a strange and lovely shell. A discovery, made in the midst of laughter, ashes, and tears, when she knew for certain the presence of God.

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