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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Diamonds and Stones by Liz Flaherty

My mind's not working well right now. At least, it's not thinking up anything new to write about. It's April, a month heavy with birthdays in my family, including my firstborn. But all I've thought about this week is my sister, who died two years ago last Sunday. I remember when I was looking for a crock with blue on it and saw one on her counter...

...she flapped her hand at me, shooing me out, much as Mom used to do with her apron. “You should have it.”

I took it, grateful. Every time I pass it, sitting on my own counter full of things I use on a daily basis, I’m grateful again. It was the last gift she gave me. Every time I see it, I see her face, her smile, and hear “Love you.”

Being with her and her family a few months later … in the spring when she left us, didn’t feel like a gift, and yet it was. Just as her life, her always-laughter, and her homemade bread and flawless pie crust were all gifts. She was the eldest in the family, the one who thought it was her mission in life to take care of everyone. She never had so little that she wasn’t happy to give it away to someone whose need was greater than hers.

I have a lifetime of memories with Nancy, ones that make me laugh, make me cry, and that I will keep safe by passing on. I miss her every day, but when I walk past the crock on the counter and run light fingers over its surface, I know she’s never really left us. I smile at her in case she’s watching, and, once again, I’m grateful.

These aren't good author days for me, which I've already whined about enough you don't need to hear anymore. I write every day, and enjoy it, but it reminds me unhappily of dusting. I find myself thinking What is the point? Because dust just comes back and because writing hasn't been bringing happy things, either. But then a few days ago, I wrote a kiss. And I liked it. 

He kissed her then. Not on the cheek this time. But still gently, still warmly. With a hint of…she wasn’t sure, something like a promise. She returned the pressure of his lips, enjoying the warmth and the gentleness.

Maybe wishing for more.

She was attracted to him—there was no denying that. Which she’d been doing for several days. Chances were good that she’d been premature in deciding there was no chemistry between them. However, even if there was…a little…maybe a lot…she wasn’t interested. If for no other reason than because she knew right down to the toes of her favorite black flats that he wasn’t.

Because he’d made it clear in the evening’s conversation that he didn’t date other educators, especially ones who were in the classroom trenches, because he’d seen enough conflict-of-interest situations that he owed it to everyone who might possibly be involved to stay uninvolved. Friendship, however, would be fine.

Yes. Of course it would.

I was listening to John Denver's "Some Days are Diamonds" this morning. I still miss him. His music has enriched my life in so many ways. The wind's blowing outside, the yard's been taken over by dandelions, and our 20-year-old cat Gabe is failing. We can see it happening. Stones. So many stones. 

But then I think of the crock that's on my counter now, and the kissing scene that wasn't exciting, but nice anyway. I think of my kids having life changes, of my hilarious grandkids, of the man I'm married to still making music. Of how much we laugh. 

How lucky I was to have had my sister as long as I did, and how grateful I am that, when I stop myself from whining, most days are diamonds. 

Liz Flaherty


  1. Great article, Liz. I feel you about the loss of your sister. I lost mine too, but every time I put on my holey writing sweater, I think of her, feel her with me. Oh, how I miss John Denver--I have him on a Pandora station and his music always brings such warm memories for me. We dated to his music...ahhh...

    1. It's so nice having them close in a tactile way, isn't it? Thanks, Nan.

  2. Lovely post, Liz. I disagree about the kiss. I think it's touching and sweet in the best way possible. It subtly tells the reader know that the viewpoint character is going to be proved wrong. I know what you mean about missing those who are on the other side. It probably sounds silly, but I have my dad's guitar in the media room. Every time I see it, I think, "Hi, Daddy. Love you."

    1. Not silly at all. Thanks for the comment about the kiss, Joan. It feels nice to me, too.

  3. I'm sorry that your writing is not bringing you the joy it brings me when I read it. I liked the kiss!
    My Mom passed 2 months ago. I still talk to her and I am surrounded by things she loved. They bring me comfort and I am grateful. Sending hugs!

    1. Thank you so much. I'm sorry for your loss. I miss my mom and mother-in-law and think of them when I see certain things, too.


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