By Maureen Tuohy-Bedford
I was sitting at the table very early in the morning - 5:30a.m. to be precise - with my steaming cup of coffee. It's a quiet time of the day - a good time of the day to just sit and take things in. December, the Holidays is such a fast, bustling time of the year, and I can easily 'lose' myself a bit and end up at-a-loss for the the meaning of it all.
At the seasoned age of 53, I believe and know that there are 'No Small Coincidences' in life. Things Happen - People Meet - Stars Line Up - Songs are Played - for a Reason. A Message. A Reminder.
And then the sweet sounds of "Where Are You Christmas" came on the radio. I sat there taking in the song - the delicate sounds, the tender words - of a 'Search' for the Meaning of Christmas. My heart was starting to ache a bit as The Story was sung.
Sitting there, my eyes were drawn upwards to the high shelf - a ledge actually - that runs along the top two edges of the slate-blue-walls of my 1960's decorated kitchen. A foot from the ceiling, the ledge holds a medley of well-loved items ~ red-handled kitchen tools... plump ball jars filled with buttons... some dated, folding yardsticks... a few vintage Christmas ornaments.
My eyes ran from one edge of the shelf to the other taking in all the old treasures... There are many... they are dainty... and breakable... and loved. And as I glanced at the dusty COKE glass cup that holds a bit of one of my boys' treasured baby blankets, I almost 'missed' the small, square envelope tucked against it... resting gently, as it should.
It is The Letter.
And there it was - The Reason. The Message. The Reminder.
It was Labor Day weekend, 2009. Living on a main road, it is not uncommon for people to honk or toot or even swing-in as they drive by the house. That day, a friend knocked at the door. I was breathless. And speechless.
"This is for you" said Lisa Xiarhos said as she handed me The Letter.
I still couldn't speak - I didn't know what to say. She could sense that - and my pause let her continue.
"This made it all the way around the world. It needs to be here with you where it started. Where it belongs."
And she handed me The Letter.
I took it in my hands. The Return-to-Sender-Pointing-Hand jumped out at me. Then the familiar handwriting. My handwriting. My return address. On a letter. Postmarked July 20. Addressed to her son. Cpl. Nick Xiarhos.
Killed in action July 23.
I looked up at her. My eyes were filling with tears. I still couldn't find words.
"I don't know what to say, Lisa."
"Don't say anything," Lisa said softly. "He never got it - but you thought of my son. This belongs here with you. At home."
I reached out to hug her - and we fell into each other's arms. Ever so briefly. And we held on tight for just a moment.
Then she left.
So The Letter sits on the shelf. Home to well-loved treasures.
It is where it belongs.