I was standing at the bathroom sink, electric toothbrush in hand, cleaning my teeth before bed. As I stared in the mirror searching for bright spots in the day instead of wrinkles on my face, my husband Michael walked in after a workout.
“Hey, did you see the poem I sent you on Instagram,” he asked.
No, what poem, I replied.
“The one by my favorite poet, the woman from Canada who has a real knack for writing the truth.”
I stopped mid-brush, toothpaste spilling from my mouth.
Favorite poet, I mumbled. How do I not know you have a favorite poet?
Michael explained that he discovered Ullie Kaye the previous year and had been following her work ever since. I made a note to look her up as he kissed me on the cheek before leaving me and the bathroom to our bedtime routine. Just then a memory popped into my head of my Dad in the hospital weeks before he died.
Sitting by his bedside, Dad talked about how tough it was to get a good night’s sleep with all the bells and beeps interrupting the darkness. To help, he told me, he focused on a ritual he’d practiced for years. He explained that when he closed his eyes, he asked God to watch over certain people – 106 people to be exact. One by one, he would name the members of our immediate family, their spouses, the families of these in-laws, his deceased client’s families, and the current clients he had a strong bond with.
As I listened to my Dad share this private ritual, I remember feeling moved and grateful to be given a glimpse of the tender man behind the tough guy who often showed up in our lives. That night, when I left his room, I made a note on my phone about our conversation and tucked that gem in a special memory box in my mind. In the nearly sixty years of knowing him, that conversation stands out as a real treasure – something I hold dear.
Hearing Michael mention his favorite poet and reading her work afterward felt like uncovering a similar treasure – a glimpse into the vulnerable heart of someone I love. How rare and beautiful these moments are when we’re given a chance to host the tiny secrets that visit out of nowhere and stay for a lifetime. They teach us about one another. They remind us to be vulnerable and to share our own gifts with others. And they build bridges between hearts keeping us connected to who and what really matters.
Today I’m grateful for tiny secrets.
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