Monique sent us a kaleidoscope.
But it wasn’t the beautiful, smoothly-sanded wood or the delicate glass end piece that moved us.
It was the note in the box.
Dear Ruth and Bobbi,
Looking through a kaleidoscope, I find that I love the scene in front of me. It’s so intricate and beautiful, I just want to look at it forever.
But eventually, I have to turn the glass. The tiny pieces inside jumble around and, for an instant, there is chaos.
Yet soon a new, even more exquisite pattern emerges. One I would not have seen if I had not turned the kaleidoscope.
I send you this to remind you that your current journey is much like the turning of the glass: A new, beautiful picture is coming into view.
We knew exactly what Monique meant.
My partner, Ruth, had metastatic breast cancer. It was terminal.
We were in the midst of chaos and yet we had learned to not resist the path before us. To take each day as it came and be grateful.
And now Monique was teaching us even more.
That, like the kaleidoscope, each turn in our lives was creating something wondrous. Although many of the turns shook us up and scared us at first, we soon noticed the wonderful, delicate picture that was formed by the new pattern in our lives.
Ruth was one of those people who was witty, smart, wise, and fun. Everyone wanted to be around her.
And yet, in the depths of her soul, she was convinced that people didn’t – couldn’t – like her. Or love her. She was too damaged, she thought.
This belief couldn’t be any further from the truth and yet she could not shake free from it, no matter how much evidence I presented that showed the opposite.
It caused much pain in her life.
Her kaleidoscope was stuck on a very ugly, cracked picture.
Cancer finally shook it loose.
Instead of holding on as tightly as she could to what she knew, Ruth allowed cancer to change her.
With nothing left to lose, she let the kaleidoscope turn and began to see how much people loved her. How she made them laugh with her wry witticisms and brought tears of joy to their eyes with her bare, honest wisdom.
One day, after reading all of the cards and loving emails sent to her, she turned to me and said, “People really do love me!”
It was a moment of sheer grace.
Ruth died a very content, very peaceful, very fulfilled woman.
The pattern was perfect.
What about you?
Do you get stuck on the picture that is in front of you? Too stubborn or too frightened to turn the kaleidoscope of your life?
Remember that when you allow the glass to turn, although it may seem that you are losing something precious, a new pattern is forming. One that is just as beautiful – or even more beautiful – than the one you left behind.
I know what’s hard about the turning of the kaleidoscope. It’s the jumble, the chaos as the pieces within your life fall around and around, looking for the right place to land.
After Ruth died, my kaleidoscope seemed to never stop turning. My grief was stunningly more difficult than I had anticipated and I could not seem to get on my feet.
Somewhere within the depths of that dark night, though, I knew that when the pieces of my life finally landed, finally formed a pattern, I would be okay. And there would be beauty again.
And there was.
I moved to California’s Bay Area, a place that resonates with my bones and soothes my soul.
In my work as a therapist, I began to help others who were grieving, using my own experience to heal theirs.
There have been new friends, new opportunities, and new love.
The Turning of the Kaleidoscope
The pattern formed by my kaleidoscope is lovely even though the loss of Ruth will always leave a few cracks in my soul.
Sometimes, you just have to take the jumble and chaos one day at a time. Or one hour at a time. Or even five minutes at a time.
But have faith. The turning doesn’t last forever.
And remember that your new view can be stunning.