This morning I had cats and coffee in the back yard. Since Henry still thinks fences are for climbing, a great deal of cat herding is usually required, but the morning is still my favorite time of day.
I walked down the damp brick sidewalk and stepped into the gazebo. On a pollen covered easel right beside the door is a blank canvas. I bought this particular canvas in 2012, to create a masterpiece for my nephew and his new wife. It rested silently against the wall in our spare bedroom for the first year.
In 2013, the cardiomyopathy that our Mom had lived with for almost twenty five years eased her from this life and into the next. I knew that her cats would be coming back to my house and I had asked Mom if I could have the wicker furniture on her porch when she no longer needed it. I had some strange notion that it would give the cats the feeling of home but only living under the bed for the first year seemed to comfort them.
We built the gazebo in the fall of 2013 so that the wicker would be protected and create that safe space for remembering that Opie and Elle....and I needed.
Jules' Dad and Sister visited that fall to "see the leaves change one last time".
In 2014 I bought an easel and created a work space in the gazebo. The canvas spent the next year waiting.
In 2015 Paw Paw returned to Heaven, along with our dear friends Donna and Cathy and the canvas continued to wait.
In 2016 Johnny's health worsened and he had to face the challenges of cardiomyopathy and several hospital stays. I would sit in the gazebo and whisper prayers to Heaven. That year I bought a new set of brushes and paint and bees and the canvas waited.
I'm not sure where the last two years went. Jules spent a great deal of time building a car. The house required attention... windows and paint and carpet and decluttering. I dealt with Lyme and Hashimoto's and a wet crawl space and delighted in new babies. Johnny and Charlie returned to Heaven and the canvas waited.
I sat for a while, staring at the steam rising toward the sunlight. Leaf shadows slowly formed on the screens and I listened to the cars passing just beyond the fence. I took a very long look at that very patient canvas.
It's been a very busy day and sitting here just now, remembering how much I saw in those few moments just before sunrise, I'm thinking that canvas may not be blank at all but a placeholder in time. A silent reminder that our memories are always with us, colorful and vibrant and indelible and perhaps that is the way it is meant to be.