A Full Cup

September 1, 2008

A Full Cup

A woman I know died suddenly last week.  She was a former student of mine, and she wasn't that much older than me, maybe ten years.  I'm saddened by her death, and thoughtful of her life and my own.  

From what I know of Leslie, she had a good marriage, raised wonderful boys, found a fulfilling career, was very involved in her spiritual community, was ever learning and growing, and had a circle of friends that extended outward until the day she died.  I'm sure her memorial service will be packed.   

She once gave me a cup, a coffee mug, which I have always treasured.  It's a beautiful hand-made cup from Mexico, depicting the faces of women - one of those wonderfully artsy gifts you get from cool friends.  I was looking at the cup again last night, thinking of Leslie, and about all that cup means.  There’s the obvious – a cup holds water or liquid, necessary for life.  It’s a vessel that gives and doesn’t take.  It’s a cup of friendship, the symbol of a bond between two women and a time they shared together.

For me, it also symbolizes transitions – I was working on closing the door to teaching, she was coming back in.  I was adopting our second child, she was sending her youngest to college.  I was going back into music, something I’d longed to do for many years, she was going back into the working world full-time, wanting to give back to the community she had learned from.

As women, we have so many facets of our lives, so many faces that we show to the world, and so many we keep hidden.  I was honored to see a few of her faces, and she, mine. I hadn’t seen her in a few years, but I have always thought of her with great warmth and every time we ran into each other it was a delightful surprise.  

So this great coffee mug, which has always sat in a prominent place in my office, full of Chinese money, political pins, pictures of my children, and ticket stubs of long ago concerts, is a cup of memories.  It’s full to the brim and overflowing with everything good.  When I see it, I’ll think of Leslie, and my life, and I’ll smile.  She was a good woman, and she has added to the richness of my journey.

I can only hope that somewhere out there, someone is looking at something I’ve given to them and thinking of me with warmth, with loving memories, and smiling. 

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