I’m grabbing my coat, shoes and bag, and on the cubby right before me lays a circle of purple beads, right in my line of vision on the wooden shelf, sitting as if waiting.
I thought I had lost it.
It’s been months since I even considered it, and honestly, had accepted was truly gone.
I grab the bracelet and place it back on my wrist, slipping onto my skin quickly as though the absence was never felt.
It lines up on my right arm, nestling in between the cedar wood mala and silver hoop, reunited and comfortable, catching the May afternoon sun.
Back in 2012, I was the dance captain for a production of the musical A Christmas Carol. Our ghost of Christmas Past was a spritely spirit named Ephie, who filled the dressing room with positivity, laughter, and music. She used to leave random gifts and cards for people outside, just as a way to brighten a stranger’s day. I loved being around her, and as I was going through a dark time in my life, I bathed in her glittered light, sitting in hope of better days.
We were all watching the original HBO season of The Comeback starring Lisa Kudrow, playing the role of Valerie. The ongoing dressing room joke was to insert the show’s character “Jane” into any sentence we could. Jane was Valerie’s poor overworked assistant in the series, and her name spit out in every breath and demand Valerie made.
“Jane, Jane, this wig, I just don’t know. Jane, can you get me another red lipstick? Jane, Marley is making too much noise with his chains!”
It had endless possibilities, and we laughed every time.
When the show closed, I returned to NYC to a husband who no longer loved me and wanted to leave. I had kept my crisis a secret while in the show as purely a survival tactic, grateful for the light jokes and sisterhood of the dressing room.
Now sitting in the pure dark of my loss, I missed the cast and the show. I missed Ephie’s light.
I didn’t see Ephie for a year, and when Christmas time came in 2013, a package arrived on my door from her. My neighbor had placed it on my welcome mat, and I bent down to pick up a simple brown shape, crinkling in my hand as I eyed the unknown return address. Inside was a purple beaded bracelet with four white beads in the middle spelling:
I jumped on my phone to thank her and posted a picture on Facebook, tagging all the girls of the dressing room. Ephie had made them for all of us as a gift.
I wore the bracelet almost everyday as a reminder of her spirit and the power of laughter. It was one of my favorites.
Last year I was at Zen service and took off my bracelets once I sat on the cushion to free my wrists and place my hands in a mudra. I thought I had picked them all up when I left, but didn’t realize until I got home that the purple bracelet was probably still lying in the Zendo.
I wasn’t at service for a few weeks, and I forgot to ask about it. Then, so much time had passed, I just let it go. I had lost so much in the face of my divorce that I reasoned my time with the bracelet was done. Maybe someone else would find it and enjoy it. Maybe someone named Jane would wear it.
This week, I was gathering my things after service and was one of the last to leave. The wooden cubbies were all bare, as my purse and coat had actually been on the floor. Just as I was pulling the strap over my shoulder, I looked down and there it was.
Lying there, so perfectly, like a gift left for me to find; like the gifts Ephie used to leave for strangers.
How long had it been there?
Had I not seen it before?
Was it always lying here waiting for me, until I was ready to find it?
I smiled for the moment, remembering our dressing room and the bond we formed over this short time. I still haven’t seen Ephie or many of those women from that Christmas of 2012, though they all know of the great changes that occurred in my life.
But I will never forget seeing her bury a little package at the foot of a tree with a card, her long blond hair flying out from her flushed face as she excitedly ran away, leaving the opportunity for a stranger to make a discovery.
A discovery for themselves.
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