For the past nine years
three times a year
I light memorial candles for my dearest friend, Sheila...
Her sudden death was not only deeply painful
but it has challenged me
beyond anything I could ever have imagined
I light my candles at sundown
and they usually burn brightly for 24 hours
flickering away as the sun sets
the next day
The first candle I lit for Sheila
was on the first anniversary of her death...
My husband, David, and I were in Puerto Vallarta
celebrating our anniversary
and trying to escape briefly
from a horrendous situation
not of our own making...
and I was missing Sheila so much
I wasn't even sure I wanted to go away...
I had bought the candle several weeks in advance...
I didn't want to forget about it
with all the hassles of packing,
my insecurities about being gone
and leaving a house full of poodles for a week
As I lit that first candle,
I knew that I was following an ancient tradition
though Sheila and I did not share the same religious background...
I was simply listening to my heart...
and to me
that is what ancient tradition is about
What I did not know
and could not know,
that beautiful lavender and gold and pink sundown
in Puerto Vallarta,
I was beginning a new tradition,
a tradition beyond my control
That simple little candle
did not burn for 24 hours
the way it was intended to do...
its' flame illuminated my life
for almost 3 full days
and when it finally flickered away...
My eyes filled with giant joyful tears
that dripped down over my face...
tears that cleansed me,
soothed me and calmed me
I would like to say that
I felt Sheila's firm, gentle fingers
wiping away those tears
or heard her whisper, "hush..."
but neither of those things happened...
What did happen was this;
I smelled Sheila's very special and distinctive perfume...
I have been lighting those same candles
for nine years now
three times each year
and those little candles
and my sweet Sheila
never disappointment me
Sheila's candles always linger
beyond the 24 hours
and I refuse to believe anything
except that it is Sheila's way
of saying, "I'm still with you..."
Who are we if we cannot believe something so wondrous...