This is her story. I barely know her. We met at a gem and mineral show in the Little America hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona at least fifteen years ago. I bought a raw opal from her. She gave me two more for free. She had dug them from her little claim in Australia.
The sun fire opal was a rough blue cylinder no bigger than the first joint of my little finger. The surface was matte. She had chipped off a sliver so the gleaming interior was visible. “Put it in water,” she said. “That way you’ll see the fire.”
The second opal was the size of the nail on my fourth finger. It was a puddle of glint and pale blue against rough brown. I can’t remember the nature of the third opal. I think I gave it to some one – a gift beyond measure.
The brown opal is also gone---stolen, I suspect, by an unfortunate visitor to my cabin in the Mojave. The sun fire opal is here with me. It is time to put it in a vial of water. It is time to see how it holds and gives back the Central Oregon sun. The delicate flicker will bring her to mind.
Two days ago I received an email from her:
Mary, thank you for sharing your beautiful dispatches with me.
I am sad to tell you of what is the speeding up of the beginning of the final journey we all must take. I was rushed from Australia in direstraits...inoperable pancreatic cancer stage iv so am here in texas with my two sons and all my grandkids. We are in a large 3500 square foot house...rents are cheap in texas. and am laughing with them daily and resting some from chemo...a light chemo...hoping to give me a few more months.
I ate a magnificent grape popcycle the other night in the dark hospital room, with curtain drawn wide open so as to catch the thunder lightning show and the sheets of poring rain cascading over the glass as the grape jusce cascaded over my sore throat instantly soothed by the wonder of it all. I am wishing you well in your new start. I am so glad you own the black opal nobbies that I mined so many years ago. May it be your companion on many new adventures ole gypsy girl you.
Love, BVM a aka Eskimo Nell
I wrote her back and asked her if I could use her words in a new Dispatch. “It is gorgeous and others need to read it.” She wrote back:
Yes, dear Mary, Feel free to use it. I write and all writers want to be read. I treasure our brief meetings too Mary. Regards, Barbara
Here, Barbara, are your words. And, you can know that you are being read. You are on my mind. And today, the sky is gray and the Oregon light is opal.