Gifts

A few days after I told the internets that I’d lost Eurydice, I received a bouquet of flowers, a gesture of sympathy and love from HFF. There were a couple of half-open scarlet roses in the bunch, which delighted me, as I love roses above all flowers (yes, yes, not very original of me. I don’t have to be unique about everything, you know). But, you know, roses, from a British florist, in December, well, I knew they wouldn’t open fully, and they certainly wouldn’t last. A beautiful gesture, a lovely ephemera, are roses.

And I was completely, utterly, wrong. They opened, magnificently. They are still going strong today, nearly two weeks later, still on the living-room table, still a deep, heady scarlet. I don’t think I’ve ever had such beautiful, long-lived roses.

And then I received chocolate, from Sol. Bar after bar of it, in a heavy, solid parcel. And it was not just chocolate (as if any chocolate was ‘just’ chocolate). It was chocolate from her special, carefully hoarded stash, chocolate from Russia, chocolate you just can’t get in this country, and I don’t know when she’ll be able to stock up again, and she spared me so much of it, because I was sad. She even wrote ‘this is NOT a Christmas present’ on the parcel, so I would open it at once and be comforted. I still have the packet from the Russian cocoa powder she gave me once before, for similar reasons, because it comforts me to see it and remember the gift and the giver. I shall have to keep these wrappers too. Out of her stash, people!

While I was still in bed, clutching hot-water-bottles to the small of my back and feeling desperately sorry for myself, a little box arrived in the post. H brought it to me, saying it might cheer me up. I sat up, intrigued, and peeled off the layers of tape. Carefully packed inside, was a little white porcelain statuette, a Buddhist monk, hands raised and joined in greeting or prayer, eyes closed. It was very sweet, downright cute even, yet for all its dinkiness and stylisation, it had a gentle, sorrowful expression, solemn, peaceful, and grave. It’s a lovely size and shape to hold in the hand, and H and I have been doing a lot of that, picking it up, carrying it about for a while, stroking the top of its smooth head. There was a card in the box, explaining that this was a statue of the Bodhisattva Jizo. At least, that is his Japanese name; he is also known as Ksitigarbha in Sanskrit. In Japan, in particular, he is the guardian of children, especially those children who have died before their parents, and those who were aborted or miscarried. In Japanese temples, statues of him are, hearbreakingly, decorated with little baby clothes, left there by grieving parents.

And I looked at this peaceful, beautiful little thing, and I thought how perfect a gift it was. I am, by nature, about as spiritual as a house-brick (tendency to fall into fits of Wordsworth on sighting a crocus aside), but this, oh, how it moved me. I wept over it, in relief, that someone out there gets it, gets me, and does such honour to my poor little embryos.

Jizo is currently residing on the window-sill, next to the candle we keep for No Baby Sorrow moments. We light the candle, and he holds up his hands in gassho before the flame for us. And I think of the friend who sent him to me, and I am so grateful.

Today, I got yet another parcel, which the benighted postal service had been happily sitting on since Christmas Eve. This one was all the way from Australia, from Korechronicles. She’d sent us a tree ornament, the word ‘JOY’ complete with twinkling crystal pendant, in the hope we actually got some of it in 2011, and a hand-bound journal, covered in deep blue leather (mmm, smell of leather!) and stitched in turquoise. Dear internets, she made it herself. I have book-binding contacts, I know just how much skill and hard work goes into making this sort of thing from scratch, and I tell you, I am absolutely, utterly, bone-deep honoured to be given such a thing. It’s gorgeous.

I am – not that you’d guess from this post – lost for words. I don’t know quite how to describe my awe, and weepy delight, that several years ago I lost my head and started pouring my heart out to nobody in particular and the whole wide world in general, and I was talking about my recalcitrant, bolshie, miserablist uterus, of all things (NB, Sol predates the ‘I am barren, hear me snivel’ era, but I still met her on the internet), and by doing this I met people, and they were Good People, and they were there for me, and some of them stepped out of the internet and took my hand, and made me part of their Real, 3D existance, part of their joys and sorrows and celebrations, real friends of the heart, and all this because I couldn’t shut up about my reproductive equipment. I have my magical scarlet roses in December, I have rare and special chocolate, I have my Ojizo-sama, I have Joy sparkling on the bookshelf and a whole book to write wonderful things in. It knocks Miracle on 34th Street into a cocked hat, I tell you.

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