Sometimes, I think it is the small things in our lives that contain the most significance and meaning. Perhaps it takes years for all the nuances and ramifications to reveal themselves, unfolding like the petals on a rose, revealing secret after secret we sensed was there, but never quite fully understood.
When my Aunt's husband was dying a slow and painful death, for some reason that felt right to me I sent him a small box of rocks as a gift. No, not just any old rocks, but rocks called "Thunder Eggs" by the Indians. They were geodes that I had personally collected in rough, Arizona desert and foothill areas, going out rock hunting for them after heavy summer rainstorms. That is when the covering dirt layers washed away and they 'appeared' on the surface . . . thus the not-so-fanciful name "Thunder Eggs".
I had them professionally cut, revealing their secret interiors, exposing crystal fairy caverns of quartz and amethyst, and intricate patterns of opal and agate, marvelous miniature worlds that were created in the hearts of volcanoes millennia before, and only now visible in the light of day. In my mind, this was - and still is - a truly wondrous thing, an adventure back into time itself.
He wrote me a short note in a shaky hand, and the words are indelibly imprinted in my memory: "Oh, my dear, you will never know! I look at them and become lost again in my boyhood when everything was new and beautiful . . . and there is no pain. I thank you with all my heart."
He was from New Mexico, and had spent much of his boyhood and young manhood exploring the caves and caverns there.
After he died, I asked my Aunt about the geodes. "Oh," she said, "I threw those silly old rocks of his in the garbage. Do you know he actually had one of them in his hand when he died?"
It has taken me many a year and many a mile to clearly and fully understand why I always held him in such high regard . . . and why, without the slightest twinge of guilt, I disliked her so intensely. Until quite recently, I actually felt a sense of guilt about not feeling guilty.
Sometimes it is something as small as a handful of rocks . . . .