Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Best Gift Ever (or) Good Salve for a Breakup

Recently, I recounted the story of the greatest (material) present anyone had ever given me. I think that the story, the thought that went into it, the personal care and love, and the general human good will of the effort has inspired much of my own gift-giving. I aspire to set off such a chain reaction of care with my own thoughtfulness.

Here's the tale:

Several years ago, I was embarking on a journey to visit my on-again-off-again boyfriend. We had been discussing and planning our most final break-up to date. It was a hard sever for me. We had spent much of our relationship long distance, but we decided to spend one last weekend together before finally throwing in the towel. We both knew it would be over when I drove home on Sunday evening.

A dear work friend, not even someone I saw on a regular basis, heard about my weekend plans and devised her own. The night before I left I stopped by her home, at her request, to pick up a mysterious cardboard box. She instructed me to open it only after I had finally said goodbye to the boy and was on the journey home, by myself.

That anticipation, itself, was the first part of the gift. The weekend should have been entirely horrible. It was bittersweet moments of temporary happiness butted up against trading back belongings and saying goodbye again and again. But every now and then, I would think of the box on my passenger seat, my mysterious driving companion, and feel anticipation rather than dread.

When I finally did pull out of the drive, my old lover waving in the rearview, I could hardly wait to pull over to read the card on top of the box. It contained instructions for the contents. Open, the box turned out to be full of many different gifts which were layered and labeled in chronological order. I was to open each gift a a different point at approximate 30 minute intervals during my 5 hour drive.

I do not recall all of the items she had packed, but here is a sampling: bar of chocolate, small geode, harmonica, postcard, mini vodka, silver owl earrings, cuticle cream, a seed pod, baubley green bracelet. And little notes and kind, pithy words to go with each. She suggested I play my own song with the harmonica- I laughed my way through Piano Man. A suggestion that I pull over for dinner and have a nipper- oh yes, I did. I wore the earrings immediately, and fell in love with sea salt chocolate.

Something magical occurred. As the miles ticked by, I stopped crying about what HAD happened and felt a desire for the immediate future.

In fact, on that long drive away from a bad relationship, I think I may have fallen in love with love again. I saw clearly for the first time that love is about freely giving of oneself, and -more importantly- it is not confined to romantic relationships. Sometimes, in fact, love is truest in the challenges of a friendship that perseveres despite no marriage of commitment.

To this day I keep waiting for just the perfect time to crack open that geode. And I think of my friend every time my nephews blow through the harmonica. Though the two of us are hardly in touch anymore, I will only ever think fondly of this friend and be grateful for the example she set for me. Man has such great capacity for kindness. If only more of us invested such time into creating love packages for near strangers.


  1. I've always felt the same way about you Sarah. Even though we've probably only seen each other a dozen times our so throughout our lives, you've always remained one of my favorite people EVER. I love that no matter how time separates there is a bond that remains and you are always near and dear to my heart, wherever you are. I love reading your thoughts and learning about your beautiful heart. Hugs...

  2. Thanks, cuz. Man I wish there was a way I could see you this summer, :(

  3. Sarah,

    Can I post this story to share? It's such a beautiful story. Every time I read one of your entries I feel like showing them to everyone I know but I'm not sure how public/private they are to you. Anyway, this was so sweet. <3



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