Your gifts have filled my days with encouragement. When I’ve deserved nothing, when I was at my repetitive worst, you placed your hands in that barren field and pulled out something good. You turned to me with your arms outstretched and I cried at your offering. How did you come up with that, and why for me?

Gift, when I didn’t ask. Gift, when I insisted. Gift, when I was in danger. Gift, when my car was full and my tank was empty.

Diving rocks, the day after a heavy storm. The ocean was rough and this nine-year-old shouldn’t have been swimming alone.

The waves pushed me against the rocks and I did my best to climb out of it. No use, the retreating water pulled me back down to the sea. I kept my eyes focused to where I needed to end up, as my body was tossed like a paper cup on the waves.

Three times I was deposited onto the jagged walls of that cliff, three times I tried climbing out and three times I was ripped back down. For the fourth bout, the waves pushed me onto the rocks and I waited as the water equalized. The pushing had stopped and the pulling not yet started. I held on as tightly as possible. I knew the power of this retreat well now.

The pulling water! So strong, like heavy chain links over my shoulders, nullifying my arms, trying to yank me back down again. I ducked my head and– fortune! A moment’s success! I climbed a few inches before the fifth wave came and lifted me a bit higher up the cliff, dislodging me in a perverse agreement towards fake safety. Yes it was pushing me higher but it was also providing buoyancy, the enemy of my fingers and the grip needed to hold me in place. I defeated that fifth-wave lift because I tucked my head down, and held my ground, as the water drained around me.

And then it was over, I was free of the pulls and pushes. I climbed to the top.

Your gifts were many that day. One was a warning: Don’t ever do that again. Another was deleting fear from my head during those tense moments. If I’d been scared, I don’t think I’d have made it. I would have wasted too much energy when I needed to grip the rocks. Another gift was giving me memories of the perilous details, so I could feel the terror in safer years.

Gift, to observe and understand. A gift that allows me to keep my eye on the ball, when others, often a majority, lose focus.

Gift, to see the arcs of life, and my place in the same.

Gift, to be one of many to care for my mother.

Gift, to be cared for. Gift, when an unnamed nurse sat with me in a hospital overnight in 2008 during a health scare.

To be told in 1972, “The baby’s kicking,” and to place my ear on mom’s belly to hear my future sibling.

To share the above experience with my older brother, side by side, our hands on mom’s belly. Do you feel it? Me too!

Gift, to make many friends along the way.

To have the right lady in my life, when all she wanted to do was talk to me. And all I wanted to do was place my hands on her. Gift, in a class beyond me. Gift, to hear her and to feel her.

Gift, to enjoy life. To be happy with so-called lower standards. To not be bothered by trivialities. That’s part of keeping focus, after all.

Gift, to feel bad to make someone cry.

To be spoken to at night. To be given the only answer I will ever need.

Gift taught me how to give.

About Ara Hagopian's The LITERATE Show

For over thirty years, I have enjoyed drawing beautiful shapes and writing complementary stories. The imagery tends to focus on our place in the world—whomever or whatever we may be. I am influenced by Twentieth Century history—I read vintage magazines, books and letters. Inspiration comes from visualizing human achievement and personal interaction—derived from people, places and things which may be obscure, but never insignificant. My pen-and-ink THE MAGNIFICENT RECOVERY was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for their 2008 summer art auction.
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