Our First Encounter: An Empty Chair at Xmas

        As I entered the little, crafty, angel-art gallery in a suburban downtown area, I realized this was no ordinary place. It was all aglow with music, people and magic. The merchants were shopping and the clerks were sprinkling pixie dust on my shoulders before I could really understand what they were doing. This was surreal. On the walls, amidst trinkets of angels, were glorious paintings of angels. I felt surrounded by celestial beings. There was soft, New Age music playing in the background and it smelled of hot cocoa.

     It was Winter time and the leaves had long ago begun to fall. This place enchanted me. I had to meet the owner. I had learned from the cashier that she was in her office, next door. She would be arriving in the gallery soon, though. The reason the gallery was so busy was that they were hosting a private party for an artist who was displaying her work for the first time. I happened upon the party, by accident. I had read about the gallery from their numerous advertising plugs in the local newspaper, although nothing could have prepared me for the festivities that were happening that night. It was an art debut galore!

    What seemed like hours later, the owner walked in. She was a starlight being who announced her presence with light, joy and an ambiance of joy, laughter and friendship to all in the room. In my shyness, I hide away. How could I approach this beaming woman? Yet, how could I not? I wanted so badly to be her friend, to know her and to love her.

     I decided to just look around. After all, the gallery was pretty small and eventually we would bump into each other, I decided. True enough, we did. I was walking backward and so was she and we literally, bumped into each other. After doing so, we turned and placed the palms of our hands upward facing each other. We said nothing to each other. We had just met yet, said nothing. We looked adoringly at each other and placed our hands, palms facing up on the palms of each others’ hands. Looking deeply into each others’ eyes we stood there, saying hello, silently, with our hands ever so gently touching. There must have been a glorious light around us for people began to stare, to stand away from us.

“Hello. I’m Leslie,” I said, slowly.

“Hi. I’m Sunni,” she replied.

    We continued to stare at each other and hugged, ever so gently.

    This was the beginning of an almost twenty-year friendship. It continues to this day. Sunni crossed over August of this year, in her sleep. This will be my first Christmas without her…

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