The doors of the curb appeal house are blue.
I woke up this morning, prepared to have a bad day.
But the doors are blue. I am weeping as I write this, but for once the tears are not sad.
As I drove past the house, I stole a sideways glance. I looked out of habit- any hope for the red doors changing color vanished after my last post. The written word has a strange power. Once you commit something to paper, or in my case, type it out and click the mouse on the “publish” button, it becomes truth. The doors were red and were going to stay red.
When I saw the soft baby blanket blue, an audible gulp escaped my throat. I think time may have stopped.
Of course, time hadn’t actually come to a halt as evidenced by my car moving forward. The doors went out of view and I was left to ponder what had precipitated the change in hue.
I had written the blog mere days before the color change. Had someone shared the story I wrote with the owners of the house? It seemed unlikely and egotistical to think they had painted the doors simply to ease the pain of a stranger. Was there a force in the universe looking out for me, compelling them to paint the doors and give me hope? Again, far fetched and self serving. Most likely, the doors changing color was a coincidence. I didn’t care. What I felt in that moment was that someone had said “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” I could heal. I could hope. I could believe in goodness again.
I searched for the text of that famous letter written by Virginia Hanlon to the New York Sun in 1897, asking “Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”.
Yes, written words do have power. When I read these, it encapsulated seeing the blue doors with perfect precision.
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.”
It doesn’t matter why the doors were painted blue. It only matters that it happened. Like some tiny signal, a letter written to me saying “You can be ok again.”
For the first time in months, I felt excited to write. I couldn’t wait to type this story. I decided I would print a copy and leave it in the mailbox of the curb appeal house. My next thought was that I should leave a painted rock with it, as they have become symbols of gratitude for me throughout this grieving process.
A specific rock immediately sprang to mind- the mandala I painted for Chris and my siblings.
I tried to talk myself out of it. The rock was not the best rock I have ever painted. Most of the lines are shaky and the shapes are unbalanced because I was crying most of the time while I was painting it. It contained a great deal of symbolism- Chris at the center of the stone. Six circles surrounding him, representing my siblings and me. He is gone. We will never again be six. The numbers will never again add up to the correct sum.
But the more I thought about the rock, the more it felt right to give it away. When I looked at it, I wasn’t reminded of the beauty of his life. I only remembered how much pain I was in while I painted it. I remember my shoulders shaking as I huddled over it with a tiny brush, my mother-in-law comforting me as I explained what the circles meant. The rock could have a much more beautiful life as a thank you than it could ever have as a constant reminder.
When I initially wrote about the doors, several people responded to me, but two notes from strangers stuck out to me the most. One lady wrote that she painted her shed door red. She wrote “It is a cheerful, joyful color. Geraniums and roses are red. Life is all about perceptions.” Should the doors return to their scarlet hue, I hope that enough time has passed that I view the color as the hue of fresh flowers and a reminder of the kindness of strangers.
Another wrote to me about her own loss. She said it took time, but she has found out she can be happy again, but with a greater focus on gratitude.
Gratitude, yes. Today, I am grateful. I keep trying to think of the perfect words to end this story, but my heart is overwhelmed with all that I have. After months of isolation, I feel the power of connection, a cosmic strand of wonder stringing us together in ways we can only begin to fathom. Sometimes it is so beautiful, it hurts. Other times, it is just beautiful.
To whatever makes this life possible, thank you. I am grateful.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a mailbox to visit.