Not At All

She wasn’t born to be sad.  But life was full of it and had no filters.

Born without siblings, to hard working parents who loved her, she had a short time with both parents.  Fully loved and thrilled to be a family.  The three of them celebrated in one another a near perfect joy.  Work was appreciated because it afforded them comforts.  Their time together was precious because they truly enjoyed the presence of one another.

Then her mother died.

Then her father died.

The perfect and happy life was gone.

Her brief but perfect time with her loving parents, however, lived on in her.  Forever.

A distant relative was tasked with her care.  A cousin of her deceased mother.  The cousin was not thrilled with this new charge.  She wasn’t cruel.  She just didn’t have the extra energy to recreate the world the child had known.

She existed, the child, in a vacuum.  There was no vitality.  No brilliant joy.  Nothing extra.  Just an existence, this place where she resided.


Within her – the light flourished.  Energy grew.  It wasn’t that she contained it.  Or held on to it selfishly.  It was the others around her who couldn’t see it, embrace it or allow themselves to be embraced by it.

She was never unhappy.  She missed her parents and the life they had.  But she didn’t miss the love or pureness.  She carried it with her.  It lived there, inside.  Everywhere she went, to school, through her chores, the quiet dinners, through the night as she sat in the window seat by her bed looking at the stars, the moon or the stormy clouds through the nights.  It was there.  This grace in her heart.

At any time she could close her eyes and smile into her sighs.  Or walking along the paths of her daily journeys she could smile into the day.  Even if others only saw drudgery.  She saw, and felt, an energy.

The cousin fed the child, provided shelter, safety and protection.  There was kindness in this that the child loved and was grateful for.

Neither the child nor the cousin dreaded the child’s maturing and preparing to move on in the world.  It was expected.  Life, to march on.  When the child did step out into the world, the cousin felt the loss of her in a way she had not anticipated.  The child left the cousin thinking more about the small joys she would miss.  The friendships the child had over the years were few, not concrete and long lasting.  Pleasant enough but permanent in memory more than time.

And the young child became a young woman.

The young woman stepped out of the vacuum.  She felt a gratitude for the care she had been given.  She felt a gratitude for the love that created and sustained her.  She added one gratitude to the other.

She felt nervous.  An exciting explosion for the life she was stepping into.

No one saw the explosion.  No one ever would.  But she felt it.  Every day.  The small explosions and ripples for the things in life that touched her and propelled her.

She spent her life learning.  Learning to build.  To create.  Her hands were tasked with skills that helped build homes.  Places of shelter and comfort for others, for families.  In time she built her own small home.  She filled it with music, and quiet, with laughter and comfort.  Tears could be shed there and when they were, the tears found a path to something.  Always, to something.

No one saw the love and tenderness she put into each build.  No one understood her passion for creating comfort and security for others.

She made friends.  She had lovers.  But her life was about something greater, no not greater, different, than any of them.  They didn’t know that.  She didn’t know that.  They couldn’t identify it.  No one knew enough to try and identify it.  No one ever felt a competition.  Relationships with her did not end, they may have left and gone on, but what they had with her they took with them.  And she retained everything they gave her.

She accepted what life handed her.  But that didn’t stop her from doing what she could to make something better, less painful, or greater, than what it was.  She never saw what life gave her as finite.  Anything given was an opportunity to mold, reform, or use for other means.

She wasn’t perfect.  She made mistakes.

She went largely unnoticed by most.  The world is vast.  Her presence was small.

Being small of stature in proportion to this world did not decrease the value of what she felt and experienced.  And it didn’t decrease the value of what she put back out into the world.

She lived joyfully.  Not because of what she had, or was given, or experienced.

But because it was how she wanted to live.

And she lived.  To the best of her ability.  She felt complete no matter what she was doing.  She felt good when she was giving.  She felt good at rest with a small fire at her feet and a book in her hands.  She felt good when figuring out a struggle and working through it.  This completeness was something she never tried to understand but others who grew close, saw it in her.  Some wanted to define it.  Some wanted to learn it.  Some were jealous of it.

She would have willingly given it, shared it.  If she knew how.

Her life was long.  It’s ending quick.

There wasn’t an explosion when she left.  The world did not go off kilter.

But her presence was recounted often in the quiet moments.  The reflective moments.  And smiles of a few when they thought of her.

The interest in her life may have been minimal to the world.

But it was everything to her.

And it wasn’t a sad life.

Not at all.



47 thoughts on “Not At All

  1. That was beautiful, reminded me of the expression that most of us lead lives of “quiet desperation”. But this one, found a way to live a full life that had meaning for her. Great piece. I wonder what/who inspired this one ??


  2. I have tears and so much of stirring in my heart …yet a deep contentment. That you …someone can feel this and know this. Such perfection of grace, gratitude and beauty of life ! I am ever so grateful to have found your blog.


  3. Colleen, that is so beautifully written. I had to read it twice. Such a loving memory of a woman who had probably reached her goal. Loving and being loved. And your words are certainly the greatest honor she can get. With such a beautiful conclusion. Who does not want to live this life and finishe it in her way? I admire how to write so brilliant.


  4. Oh Colleen, what a wondrous story of a persons passion for life, and that glorious feeling of fulfillment, you created, engulfed my heart and warmed my soul, so much so, I’ve tears in my eyes, haha, liquid joy again.


  5. I add my comment to others in your chorus of appreciation! You wrote so convincingly I was just sure you were remembering a particular individual. I’m not sure that many people retain optimism and vibrancy throughout a difficult life, but I do believe some do! You captured that essence with lovely sensitivity.


    • it is beautiful how you show how people gain in importance for each other and appreciate each other and it is the greatest when, as in your story, the memory after death continues for a long time and you like to remember it! Yes, you should write about your feelings more often, Colleen, you are a master!

      Liked by 1 person

    • although it does not make any difference to her feelings and the general fact, I find your “discovery”,Jim also extremely remarkable.
      All what she has made wonderfully in her presents, was small. It was noticed, and thereby it became bigger, because it was shared. Divide it, and it will doubles, like love!


  6. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful life with me, with us, with the world, MBC. I wish I had been able to witness any part of it firsthand. Then again, right now I feel as if I have felt it all through your words.


  7. This was a truly special tribute to a friend, someone who went beyond her existence and gave openly from the well which was her core. Lovely way to describe her life, got my eyes quite tearing up.


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