a Women Writer's' Showcase
by Linda Andersen

Blue rivers of headache wash around in my head, threatening the joy.  It is l2:30 in my day and in my life. But, sweet wonder of a day, it is my daughter's first wedding shower.     The room is warm and female.  Soft murmers and gossamer laughter flit from woman to woman.  Mothers, mothers-in-law, aunts, grandmas, sisters and best friends.  Women all, connected to each other and to this moment by love.  My daughter is here, oh yes.  

For her, this is a new beginning.  It is for me, too. I have somehow leapt over twenty years from my first shower to hers.   All she does today, I have done once myself.  And my years with her were my best gifts--tied in a pink ribbon--love gifts from God.     

"Did you know...?"   

"We're glad you came...."

"How are the wedding plans coming along?"    

I hear myself answer through the bothersome headache.  This is a woman-time, perfumed and mysterious.  A rite of passage.  One circle merging into another.  Two, on the verge of becoming one.  Funny.  My head aches and I'm offered a pill.  My heart aches and the world keeps turning.    

On one side of the room young ones gather to share laughter and wisdom.  They are wise, these ones.  They have done this and that, and they nod wisely and gesture as they talk .  One is pregnant and glowing--a showcase of life to come, tipsy on skinny heels.     Grandma sits, wise and beautiful, crowned by eighty years.  She is wisdom;  she is knowledge.  She has, after all, spawned this lively train of life and watched it multiply and grow.    

Shiny packages pile up on the table and suspense builds.     "Not until after we eat!" a young one laughs at us.  "Then we want to know all about how you met him," she warns my daughter.  This last comment curbs Kelly's appetite, making the color rise warm and splotchy on her cheek.  She is not at all sure she wants this limelight. 

She's tall, this babe of my brood, and moves in grace, white teeth flashing, blue eyes sparkling.....I think of another time...

"What color are they?" I ask the doctor in a weak voice.  Her birth was Caeserean, and now I'm awake in a mountain of snow-white sheets, pillows, nurses, lights, and pain.  But the joy overrides it.     A nurse stands nearby holding Kelly up so I can see her.  This moment of meeting will not come again.  I push hard past the pain to the joy, and feel this tiny stranger to be mine.  We have walked together for nine months, yet never met.     How is it then that we know each other?  How is it she reaches for me and I for her.  Strange universal moment when Creator-God touches earth and ignites an eternal flame in the breast of a mother.  

Her hair is dark and thin--a chicken just hatched and not yet beautiful.  A duckling, wet, furry, and half awake.  I want to know the color of her eyes.  Mine are brown.  Yes.  Hers are blue!  A beautiful, sparkling blue.     A giggle escapes me, and I laugh for joy.  The pain returns; I close my eyes, and I am content......    

I watch her over the edge of my coffee cup as she opens her gifts.  They have not changed, these eyes, except to become more like jewels set in the alabaster of her skin.  Blue, fringed with honey-blond lashes.  Today these eyes smile, receiving both honor and joy.  

Twelve-thirty in my life, more than half past. The clock has struck.  My nest is half empty, half full; my life half over; and yet only begun.  Today's ending marks a new beginning for both me and Kelly, and I look over my shoulder and see a life full and round.  Mountains and valleys.     Ahead I see a trail of question marks and opportunities.  Doors stand open ahead, doors remain locked behind. 

Food reappears.  We eat and talk, building bridges, preparing the way.  The bonding with her new family has begun.  She's been in my nest a long time, this one.  Now her loyalties will widen and shift--labor pains of change.  I press the pain in my temple...or is it in my heart?     Oh, she will live nearby.  Yet things will be different.  I see now that I have been letting her go from the moment of birth, and will continue to let her go until death.   It is the way of it.  It hurts.  But it is good.

                                                   The End

Bio:Linda Andersen is a freelance writer with 6 inspirational books and 300 articles behind her, and lots of fun ahead of her.  Her next book, "The Too Busy Book"  will be released by Waterbrook Press in October, 2004. Permission is given to use my e-mail address for reader contact.     Guests begin to leave, and it has begun.  It is finished.  And it is good.  Contact Linda.