RARE RAINY DAY - The Story Behind the Song
DANCE WITH ME, SPIRIT - The Story Behind the Song



Mourning a loved one takes both strength and softness, fortitude and surrender, emptiness and awareness. We all do it differently, and we are all correct in the way we do it. My own personal method includes staying alert and watching for signs. Sometimes a bird will make an emphatic appearance; a license plate on the car ahead of me at a stoplight delivers a specific message; an unexpected phone call arrives at just the right time. Or something really weird but absolutely unmistakable happens.

Last week marked the birthday of my late step brother Jeffrey. He passed away this past November, only 10 days after a diagnosis of acute leukemia. Of course, I think of him all the time, but birthdays and holidays are the times that grief knocks even harder on my heart's door.

Jeffrey and I shared a love for a really good cup of coffee. Over the years, we swapped tips and techniques to make the quintessential cup. I sent Jeffery a pound of my delicious Papua New Guinea non-acidic brand, and he sent me a pound of his favorite Starbucks beans. I gave him an airtight canister to keep his coffee fresh. And he gave me a ceramic Melitta pour-over cone, extolling its virtues over the plastic kind.

Jeffrey was right. I love my ceramic Melitta pour-over cone. In fact it has become something of a touchstone for me, and every morning when I make my coffee, I think of Jeffrey and silently thank him for turning me onto it.

On the morning of his birthday, I was thinking of him even more than usual. I had just prepared a little altar with his photograph and some flowers, and lit a candle in his memory. From there, I went into the kitchen to make my coffee, thinking of him the whole time. I reached for my ceramic Melitta pour-over cone but it slipped out of my hand and landed in the sink. Fortunately for me, the fall only took a chip off the front of the rim.

I had to laugh. If Jeffery wanted to let me know he was with me even from the other side, that would certainly be the perfect way to do it! Now, when I make my morning coffee, I smile at my imperfect ceramic Melita pour-over cone and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it's absolutely perfect.