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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

A Red Thread

Note: I don’t often use names in my posts, aside from my own and Andrea’s but this post will make a very brief departure from that, and I hope this truth is met with grace.

This morning, I learned of someone’s passing. I don’t remember when we last exchanged texts. I joke that I am perfect for HR…tell me your secrets, and I’ll forget them. It’s not because I’m not interested or don't care… I once worked for a man who knew an awful lot about brains, and he said that brains are supposed to forget things. I tell myself this when I forget, which is often.

There’s a writing prompt that starts off, “I remember….” And you write whatever comes into your mind after that.

Years ago, I worked closely with this person who passed. I remember sitting in the front seat of her car, driving to Vermont in a snowstorm - the flakes whorling into the windshield, obscuring the view, 2 other colleagues in the back. It looked like we were in a spaceship from Star Wars.

I remember her and Bob misunderstanding something I said and the three of us laughing at the time and repeatedly. We got a lot of mileage out of that one. I remember sitting next to her at the funeral for Bob’s wife and me - unable to stop crying as Bob left the church with his boys. She said something to me - strong and kind, but what? I’ve forgotten. I remember her bed bug checks at hotels and her aversion to staying on the first floor - an idiosyncrasy I’ve adopted as my own. My brain has been like a flip book of "I Remember..." today which made me think of these lyrics from Rent:

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee

In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife

In 525,600 minutes

How do you measure a year in the life? – Seasons of Love

Chinese mythology talks about the Red Thread of Fate – which is believed to be an invisible red (symbolizing happiness) cord around the finger of those that are destined to meet one another in a certain situation as they are "their true love.” The two people connected by the red thread are destined lovers regardless of place, time, or circumstances. I like to think of a thread connecting us to others – not just those who are our true love – but those who are friends, our acquaintances, our colleagues, and those we attended high school with. It tethers us. They say the red thread may stretch or tangle but never break. I can picture it stretching taut - between miles, under the strain of disagreements, or even through our own filters of judgment or misunderstanding. Or maybe the thread drops - anchored by burdens shared - perhaps disproportionately. The scale out of balance. We get busy - our lives are messy spiderwebs of these threads, crisscrossing.

Death seems to leave behind a messy knot for the rest of us to try to reconcile with and untangle – we’re each left holding our own end of the thin thread in our hands, which connects us to the person who passed. Our thread weaves and tangles with the threads of others.

If you’re familiar with the song Seasons of Love from Rent, the answer to the question: “How do you measure a year in the life?” is this:

How about love? How about love? How about love? Measure in love Seasons of love Seasons of love

It's as good an answer as any, and maybe it's the only answer that matters. It's there in the thread - however taut or frayed.

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