January Handsel

hand-heart-hand in skyHandsel: a gift given at the beginning of something, especially a new year.

Though it’s hard not to keep thinking to myself “this time last year, Mom was here,” what I try to do when these thoughts recur is shift from grief to celebration, from loss to gratitude, from past to present. This is a new year, a perfect opportunity for new beginnings. Perhaps I can let the universe help me move forward, instead of tackling the forward momentum all on my own.

What better way to be brought into the present and its bright future than by children? I am blessed with step-children and their young ones, precious new humans for whom I am “Mamaw”, the beloved name I called my grandmother, and a traditional name both in my family and in my husband’s, derived from French ancestors.

Today as I write stories with our ten-year-old, I slip into that magical world of imagination that I inhabit by profession. But the wonder in her eyes as a new idea comes to her, the crystal-clear joy that bubbles up as the right words find their way onto my computer screen, the way she holds the soft stuffed kitty I keep in my office for her, all these unseal the spring of my own sense of wonder, and for a few hours, all things are indeed new again.

My head knows this is the right thing to do: spend time with her, think of imaginative pursuits that engage and challenge her, keep the television turned off for the duration, incorporate every idea she has into our story so as not to dampen her spirits.

But no matter how intellectual our writing efforts, this is no head-project. This is an unleashing of pure Mother-love that, though I can no longer receive, I can give. And here is the handsel for the new year: loss truly is gain when we listen with our hearts.

The Milford-Haven Novels and stories resume publication later this year. Find all of Mara’s news at wwww.MaraPurl.com.

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