Have you ever had a strong premonition that you needed to do something? A prompting?
This week my husband, Gary, and I cleaned and scrubbed a small condominium in the sleepy beach town of San Clemente. Our daughter, Brittany, lived there when she was getting her Master’s degree in Education in 2009. She was free and single and though she worked hard at getting her teaching credential, it was also a carefree time in her life. She loved jogging on the beach. She loved her little condo by the sea.
From the kitchen sink Brittany enjoyed a 180 degree view of the ocean sparkling in the distance. She was a good cook and after settling into the condo, she threw a housewarming party and prepared a gigantic batch of Spanish Seafood Paella. I bought her a bag of the Calasparra rice, grown in Spain, knowing that the short-grained rice, which can absorb large amounts of broth while remaining firm, would enhance her recipe. I supplied her with a few bottles of Spanish white wine from the Rueda region and a few bottles of red from La Rioja.
I helped her clean and prepare for the party then left before her guests started arriving. We put a large plastic tarp over the wood lattice patio because it looked like rain. I could smell the smoky saffron-flavored rice simmering with chicken, shrimp, clams and peas in the huge paella pan as I closed the front door and headed home. I hoped, in vain, that there would be left overs.
After Brittany moved, married and passed away at the tender age of twenty-nine – we rented the condo to a teacher. This year the teacher’s lease was up and I asked Gary if we could do something in honor of Brittany. I wanted to refurbish the home that had once housed my child and name it “Brittany’s Bliss”. I wanted to clean, paint and scavenge thrift stores to furnish it, as she and I had done eight years ago. Something inside me wanted to turn the beach condo into a refuge for friends and family.
Today, my back is twitching and my husband groans as he descends the stairs. We used and abused muscles that hadn’t been exercised in years. We are good tired… happy tired. Brittany’s Bliss is starting to look like a place that our family and friends will enjoy.
Something inside me tells me that this is the right thing to do. That someone will need respite and we will be able to offer it. One of the last things Brittany asked was that we all pay it forward. I’m trying to follow her advice.
Look Brittany … the ripple effect. Love you always.