On Sunday I had the misfortune of throwing out my back, while flinging 45 bales of pine straw in the beds around the yard. The rest of the day, all night, and into Monday, I moved slowly and hobbled around, unable to bend or twist. At the risk of sounding 40 a day before the big day... what in the world, world? I was in pain and in even greater annoyance that I might be feeling less than my best on the day I planned to treat myself to some pampering.
The thought of 40 has circled inside me for the past year - was it a big deal? Would I care? Would I be depressed? Run away? So as I came home from work, thinking about my last day at 39, I called my Mom. I was cheerful, planning to ask her about a night 40 years ago... and was she at the hospital yet, or did labor start in the night. The usual birthday eve thoughts we recount year after year. Only, that thought struck me in tandem with this one: Mom is the only one left who was there that night. My Dad, my grandparents - all gone. I sunk like a stone. I went to a dark corner like a small creature. As I eased my aching self down to sit on my closet floor, I pulled a box close by - my Dad's stones. It had been unloaded into the closet over a year ago when we moved, and there it still sat.
In his last years, Dad's affinity for geodes, gemstones and crystals grew. He bought them from mines across the country, wherever he happened to travel. In the divesting of his belongings, I claimed a small cardboard box filled with ziploc bags, labeled and containing one stone each. I went through the box twice - once when it first came to me, and once when I chose a stone to give to a special friend. So as I opened the box, fully sentimental and tearfully missing my Dad, I grabbed the folder on top, recognizing the font as his favorite and eager for his words.
"Everything is energy" he wrote, "a combination of atomic and sub-atomic particles. These particles are in constant motion, vibrating, and creating an electromagnetic force field that extends beyond the physical boundaries of the 'matter' itself... when you hold a crystal or gemstone in your hands, your sub-atomic particles are intermingling with the rock's sub-atomic particles. In that way we are energetically connected with all of existence."
I smiled through the tears, reading his words, feeling his sincerity, lifting the stones out of the box one by one. I couldn't remember even seeing them before that moment. I continued reading, and unwrapping stones.
"Stones were the Earth's bones... and it was believed that stones held certain energy to either assist humankind or to record information throughout the ages. There is nothing on Earth as old as stone. They have seen the full range of human trials and tribulations, disasters and times of milk and honey."
I dug through the box, dissolved in longing for my Dad, and hunting for a message from him.
"There is no greater resource to you than your own instincts. If you happen to be drawn to a particular stone, or happen to come into one 'by coincidence' it may be just the thing that your 'inner guidance' is trying to motivate you to obtain."
I smiled at the "Dadness" of this article, at the way he put his whole heart into what he believed. The promise that he would always be there for me, though I may need to look for him in the trees, after he passed from our realm to the next. I had spent my time with one leg in that realm after he passed. I know it is there, just along side of us, but I also know I am part of the living. I had to step away from the mystical heart of me, or miss out on what was right before me, visible.
But we have a pact, Dad and I. I will always acknowledge the power of the unseen. I will always speak to him, speak to my Mamaw, speak to my Gig - and I know they hear my heart. I laid my almost-40-year-old heart on that floor and missed the three that celebrated the morning I was born. Imagined their presence there with my Mom, welcoming me.
After a time, I stood up from the closet floor, shook off the memories, and made my way downstairs. My eyes widened and a grin like no other split my face.
The back pain was gone.
I am 40 and as long as there are still mysteries, life is good.