Posted by: jeannineatkins | March 7, 2009

Miracles and Waves

Tomorrow my daughter and I are going to see our friend, Pat. As a teacher for over thirty years, Pat has the gifts of energy, optimism, and being able to see one bit of time for itself. Lately this means she can say that she had a rough morning, or afternoon, or sometime day: but she doesn’t blur it and talk about rough weeks and months. This is kind of amazing to me. Last week she told me about her still-there hope for a miracle. I know the miracle she wants. I want it, too. But while I believe anything can happen, is it all the writing we do, trying to arrange events in a believable order, that makes me suspicious of out-of-the-blue salvation? How lucky we are on the page, getting to end things wherever we choose.

At any rate, I tried to find miracle enough in the afternoon we spent together, remembering some of the joys we’ve shared in the past twenty-three years. Pat enjoyed recollecting, too, especially about my daughter. Who else but Pat would have gone with the two of us to Storyland in New Hampshire (my husband bowed out), taking a three-year-old to Peter Pumpkin-eater’s house and Cinderella’s coach and never minded if Em was too shy to say hi to the old woman who lived in a shoe? Who else would remember me telling Em that the cotton candy had to stay in Storyland: let’s leave it for the next person. What a desperate mom. No wonder Emily loves this very special sort-of-aunt.

When I left Pat last week, I mentioned to her husband I’d be doing school visits near the ocean. Ed said, “I guess you’ll throw in some rocks.”

That’s what Pat has always done when we’ve gone to the ocean, naming people and sending prayers. So I promised to, but thought we all have our own way of praying, and mine is more about trying to listen to the ocean, trying to hear what the waves have to say, and find peace in whatever they bring.

Then I stood near those waves. I found a smooth white stone. I threw it, hard, hoping for exactly the kind of great big improbable miracle Pat wants. She wasn’t there, and I was the stand in, and couldn’t be contented with listening to water coming in, water flowing out. Hope is sometimes wild, illogical, and real as salt water. Even if we end up with an afternoon talking, resting, coaxing her to take a bite of a bagel, a sip of ginger ale, and maybe watching some of Hairspray, maybe singing a lyric or two.



  1. I’m tossing out my little stone, too. Hoping for Pat’s miracle. Have a good visit tomorrow and know my thoughts are with you.

  2. Miracles happen every day . . .
    What a beautiful story.

  3. Thank you for sharing this special slice of your life with us. I, too, will throw a stone and hope for Pat’s miracle.

  4. Pat is a miracle all on her own, in all she does and gives. My thoughts are with you both.
    All my love…

  5. There is something magical and reassuring about the ocean.

  6. Jeannine, sending hugs. I think, for me, it’s more about the waves, too, because if I wish and it doesn’t happen, that’s almost too hard. But I think you probably needed to throw that rock in this time, since Pat wasn’t there. I’m hoping for your miracle, too.

  7. I miss the ocean….

  8. Thanks for the tossed stone. I can hear it splash!

  9. That’s exactly what Pat says!!

  10. Susan, you have the best stones, so thanks!

  11. You’re so sweet, Jo. I’ll send on your very special love (and keep some, too)

  12. Absolutely. I was happy to post pictures of waves, to take me back just a bit…

  13. Yes, I like to phrase things a bit open endedly. But yes sometimes you have to go with the ways of a friend.

  14. Sending you salty smells and wavy sounds!

  15. I hope that rock does the trick.

  16. Those are such beautiful thoughts. I’m so glad you shared them with us.

  17. Thanks, Kelly. At the moment I’m grateful for a nice afternoon spent with her and my daughter, a visit that cheered her a lot.

  18. Thanks, Cindy. I appreciate that — and your beautiful ocean photo!

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