A THOUSAND TINY STEPS

Elaine

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Painting of sunflowers
The above painting is a gift to me from Elaine. I reached out after I has seen several of her paintings. Molly loved sunflowers.

Elaine died December 5th. Like many things I learn, I came to know of this on Facebook. It was one of those posts that stopped me in my tracks. I sat down on the sofa and stayed perfectly still for quite a while. 

Staying perfectly still is a defense mechanism for me. My physical stillness balances the chaos in my mind. I have spent entire days in bed not moving a muscle after traumatic events. Losing my job in the school district, losing Molly, the trauma with Aimee and Roy, my current school board situation are all examples of body stilling trauma. 

But back to Elaine. 

I came to know Elaine sometime around 2006. My daughter Gracie had allergies and we went through testing and identifying those allergies at the office where Elaine worked. The receptionist behind the glass, Elaine was the face and the voice for that allergy office for most of the years we went there. Her bright smile and (at the time) red hair welcomed you at every visit. 

Her sister Barbara checked you out and sent you on your way. 

It took me a while to learn that they wee sisters. I loved watching them interact behind the desk. Clearly, they were close. Smiles and laughter most of the time, interrupted only by the tasks of their jobs. (Patients to greet, phones to answer, appointments to schedule.)

I would soon learn that my Elaine connection was far deeper than weekly allergy shot visits.

Around the same time that Gracie started allergy shots, a former NH high school standout runner named Zach came into my life. I remembered his running days at a nearby high school. He was working at a local newspaper and wanted to start coaching. There was a indoor track position open at the high school so I set him up with an interview. 

He was hired. 

Several months later an IT position became available in the district. I called him at work and suggested he give the IT director a call. He did, and several hours later was offered a job. (You’re welcome, Zach!) We worked together for several years. Eventually he was a three-season coach and had developed what he called “Emerson’s Army”, He left after a few years to coach at a small D3 college and then moved on to a D1 University where he still coaches.

He loved Molly and Gracie.

It was during an indoor practice when Molly ran up to me (they were with me as I had no childcare that day) and asked me if the “warm ocean” was on the left or the right. Zach looked at her and grinned. “I hope my children are just like that someday”. It was at this time that I found out Elaine was Zach’s mother.

It made perfect sense.

Elaine has an incredible outlook on life. She knows that the important things are often hidden in the smaller details of life. That the tiny gestures far outweigh the grand ones in the overall scheme of life. She knows that using your gifts and talents for the promotion of goodwill is far more valuable that making a lot of money. Zach embodied all of these qualities. It is what makes him a great coach and a terrific parent.

After my job loss, I fell out of contact with Zach. The running world was too painful for me. He reached out though. He had my back and wanted me to know how upset her was at my circumstances. He was loyal. When Molly died he was one of my biggest supporters. He wanted her to wake up so badly. He had his team write “wake up Molly” on their socks the week she was on life support.

Elaine reached out as well.

She checked in several times via social media. As Zach’s family grew and she became more involved in the lives of her grandchildren I began to see a new side of her. Artsy Elaine. Creative Elaine. Save the Monarchs Elaine. I marveled at the fun she created for her grandchildren.  Following her creative endeavors and Zach’s coaching experiences was a comforting distraction during many wide-awake late nights for me. 

Emerson’s Army.

The above painting is a gift to me from Elaine. I reached out after I has seen several of her paintings. Molly loved sunflowers and I asked if she would paint some for me. When she delivered the painting, she let me know that she had written Molly a note on the blank canvas. This kind gesture left me speechless. We mothers anguish over the thought of our children being forgotten. Something else about the painting left me speechless.

The dragonfly.

Molly often shows herself to me through dragonflies. She loved them. She made one from clay for my mother once. Elaine simply said she felt called to add it to the painting. This connection felt (and still feels) like a message from Molly reminding me to recognize the good people. The ones who will help me. 

“Find the helpers Mommy”

I write this in the early morning hours of January 9th. The sun is just rising and the colors in the sky silhouetting the barren trees are too beautiful to adequately describe. The purples and pinks too vivid to measure. The smoky blue/grey of the clouds adding to their vibrance. The perfect heavenly pallet upon which to sketch with words about a beautiful person (two actually) I have been lucky enough to have in my life.

Thank you, Elaine, for being a small but important piece of my story. We all grieve our loss of you here while we celebrate all that you were to us when you were. I hold your family in my heart. I am quite sure that they miss you profoundly.  While we were not in one another’s daily lives, I will miss you profoundly as well. 

You raised a terrific son Elaine. 

You were kind to Gracie.

You honored Molly.

You made the world a better place. 

Thank you.

5 Responses

  1. What a beautiful tribute! We never really know how a life can impact so many others. Elaine had a profound effect on so many throughout her life.

  2. What a lovely piece about a person who seems wonderful. I was listening to your podcast today where you talk about energy, and I truly believe that we accept the energy we need in our lives 🙂

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