it is time to give it back
the little blue keyboard with the colourful keys that my little man called starbursts
he had named each key after a member of our family when he was really little

this one is baba, this one is mama, this one is…

my girls had played with it before little man was ever in our arms
My oldest little lady first, pressing down on those keys and being so excited at the sounds that resulted

My second little lady equally enamored by the musical toy, so much so that she kept asking to play a real piano

and then, it was little man’s turn, banging away and delighted with his songs

but it’s time
it’s time to give this little piano back to its original owner

the one who let me borrow this sweet toy is one lady who has loved me from the moment I set foot in the South.   She was the one who brought me homemade soup one day when she heard that I was so sick.  I hardly knew anyone in town, and I was so weak, fever so high, body aching, voice gone…and somehow she had heard and came knocking at my door ever so gently, and in her hands she had a large mason jar full of delicious hot soup and she hugged me and prayed over me and I am sure I cried right then and there in our little apartment, frail body, my heart missing home. Those days were hard.  All the tension in my soul – the joy of being married to my Beloved and the pain of being separated from all that I had previously known, my own family and friends and the life I had left behind.

I missed the familiar.  I missed being known.  But I loved being by my Beloved’s side.

And this friend, she just let me be.  She cared for me in the most tangible ways.  Like when she knew how my heart was so sad being so far away from my community and she encouraged me to come join the ladies’ group at her church
Like the day when I told her I was expecting and what I longed for was to share the news with my Mama who was thousands of miles away.   But I had to do that over the phone and I just wanted to see Mama’s face and my Mama’s eyes and hug her.
And my friend came over and she was so thrilled and celebrated with me and she prayed over me and my growing babe within me

And over the next few months, she walked alongside me, and showered me with love.

And then one day, she brought me this little blue keyboard and told me how each of her three children had played with it and one day, she said, I would like to give it to my grandchildren, but I don’t have any now, so please take it
and there was something so beautiful about that gift; something so beautiful about the fact that it came from her home, that it was familiar to her and she was passing it on to me, and it’s a simple act that touched my soul…
there was something so beautiful about every gift she has ever given me: the story books for my babes, the puzzles and games, the meals she has prepared, the visits on the front porch, the life stories we have shared…the love she has showered on me, the prayers she has prayed for me and my family

how she helped me feel at home, when I felt so alone

And now, my precious friend is a grandma, and I look at that little  keyboard and I know it is time to return it to her all these years later

and this town isn’t so unfamiliar anymore
and while I will always miss my mama and wish she was right beside me to share in all the life that we do here, I don’t feel so alone anymore

and it was the love of dear friends like this one, who thought that among many other things, a little blue piano her children had played with might help make the difference in helping me adjust to life in the South.

And it did

I love you dear Beth, and I always will.

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