This is a picture of Maria.
Maria no longer looks like this. If I am correct, next month she should be turning 38.
This is a picture of her on the very first day I met her.
I had just started dating her uncle (my now ex-husband). I, myself, was 18.
(Oh, my God! Was I ever really 18??)
Maria was two years old. We took Maria and her two brothers to the park where, as you can see, she was enjoying an ice cream on a warm summer afternoon.
Maria and her brothers have a very special place in my heart. I saw them grow from when they were very young until they were becoming young adults. Maria's story includes very many accomplishments which I won't relate here since that is her story and I have not spoken to her in so many years. I will simply say that in her life she worked very very hard and became such an accomplished young woman.
I divorced her uncle sixteen years ago. The last time I had seen her was probably a couple of years before that. Even though I am glad I started a new life, one of the downfalls of divorce is that, as a result, there are so many people from my ex's family who I truly did love but that I no longer get to see.
Anyway, before Christmas time I had not been here at my blog in several months so I did not know if anyone had been visiting. When I finally did come back here, I saw that there were some new "Followers" who were reading my blog. I looked to see who they might be and to my disbelief one of the readers was Maria!
I thought maybe I might be mistaken but I found out it truly was her! Through my daughter, I found her on Facebook and am in the process of trying to connect with her on my side over here.
Although she and her entire family were always very important to me, there is one thing that especially stands out for me where Maria was concerned.
When Maria was little, I used to draw with her. Even though I did not think she knew, I guess somewhere along the way she knew that I loved to paint, and that, in my heart, I always wanted to be an artist.
When she was somewhere between 9 and 11 years old (approximately) she gave me a little piece of paper that she had cut out.
This is it:
I did not know how to enlarge this(although if you click on it you can see it), so I will tell you what it says;
"What would a woman artist miss if she gave up her art?
She gives up her dreams. She gives up struggle, harassment, disappointment...
She gives up the song of the angels...the miracle of being alive."
I have kept this little piece of paper in my wallet for what must be around 26 years.
So many of those years were spent running away from my heart, my passion, my love, my art.
But, of course, I could never truly run away.
And every once in a while, when I would tell myself, "who am I kidding?" I would pull this little piece of paper out of my wallet and savor the beauty of these oh, so true words, that a little girl, my niece, once gave me so long ago.
She probably doesn't even remember giving it to me.
I know she would not know that I still have it after all these years.
But if she is truly reading this blog, I hope she will read this, and know how grateful I am to her for having thought of me to give me this. I hope she will know how these words have often saved my life.
I hope she might know this one "small" gesture changed my life.
I hope we might all remember that one "small" gesture on our part just might be the saving grace for someone else's life.
With gratitude, Maria,
Your aunt Always,