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  • Writer's pictureLeanne W. Smith

Fire in my bones, hope on my horizon

I went breezing into Publix in a hurry, like always, and walked past her without seeing. It took a minute to realize she was talking to me, following as I grabbed a cart and pointed it toward the deli, list firmly in hand.


She was talking to me. Oh no she needs money. But I was wrong, she was the giver here.

“You’re pretty,” she said with a lopsided smile, one of her eyes skittering to the left.

Her mother approached and off they went, with her turning back once to proclaim with final emphasis, “You’re gorgeous.”

I watched her go, stunned. This has never happened to me in a grocery store. Though I still wore church make-up, I knew it wasn't my movie-star looks but this young woman’s eyes that caused her to make the declaration as I rushed past in my sweat pants and sneakers.

Later, I stood in front of the mirror brushing my teeth, reaching for the face serum I’m convinced is my final hope for keeping wrinkles at bay, and thought of her again. That lopsided smile.

What a gift she was! An angel. How else do you explain the uninhibited ways common to those of skittering eye?

My grocery store angel was merely the latest in a string of undeserved kindnesses God has offered.

In June I was told I had a rare uterine tumor. Malignant.

In early September, less than two weeks into my recovery from a second surgery, my husband had a bike wreck, both arms broken. Tragic, yes, and disappointing that he could no longer complete the athletic event he’d been training for, but he could have been killed. He could have broken his neck or impacted his spine.

Then the week I was to begin a low-dose chemo pill, I was told specialists at Johns Hopkins (my tumor was so special it went traveling) changed the diagnosis. The rate of recurrence was now lower, dipping the balance on my need for the chemo pill.

Random blessings continued to flow in our direction. A deposit we overpaid years ago found our mailbox. A friend unexpectedly sat in the waiting room the day of my second pre-op. My love for my husband deepened as he held a plastic tub for me to be sick in. Friends brought food, sent cards, offered prayers. My car was still under warranty for an expensive repair. I even found the presentation clicker I had given up for lost. You may not think that’s a big blessing, but for a professor who teaches presentation, a clicker is paramount.

Some people are uninhibited in sharing thoughts with others, even strangers in grocery stores. Not me. Courage is required each time I put words out for public consumption. A fire has to build up in my bones so strong that the only relief is to release it.

In addition to the gratitude I feel in feeling good and in knowing my husband can button his own shirts again, I see hope on the horizon. One is that I’m serving as the faculty lead in Italy spring semester. I’m seizing the day! John Keating would be proud. May the experience fill my own artist’s soul, and yours by way of my musings.

The tagline I plan to use is "Seeing 2020: Blogging from Italy as a new day begins...about life, art, writing, and the unexpected roads traveled."

Come go with me! Invite others to join us by forwarding my blog posts. When new folks sign up for my email list--here--they'll have access to a free PDF download of my winter short story, On a Dark & Snowy Night. In fact, if you haven't read it, Merry Christmas! Did I mention it was free?

A second hope on the horizon is that I actually have two manuscripts close to completion. It has taken some time to move through shocked, worried, surviving, grateful, and at peace to get to a place again where I could feel the fire of words building in my bones. But it’s coming. And you know what?

Those two stories are pretty. They are as gorgeous as angels with skittering eyes. ___________________________________

If you liked this blog post you might be interested in my books Leaving Independence and A Contradiction to His Pride, or my short story On a Dark and Snowy Night, great paired with a bleak day and a warm blanket.

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