Story: Gifts

This is a DEPRESSION story about bereavement and moving on.

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story gifts

A young king and queen were blessed with a beautiful baby girl. As was the custom in that kingdom, when the baby was ten weeks old, they held a naming ceremony for family and friends. It was a time of festivities, offering thanks for the birth and bestowing gifts. Traditionally, a trusted friend of the family would be appointed as a mentor and support for the baby as it grew to adulthood.

Baby Olivia’s mentor was Cormack, who gave the baby three gifts. He carefully fastened a pendant with an iridescent purple stone around Olivia’s neck. It was a stone of hope and with it he wished that whatever adversity the young Princess faced in the life before her, she would always carry hope in her heart. Next he gave her a book, embossed in gold which contained ancient stories. The third gift was a crystal, nestling in a box lined with black velvet. He held it up to the light. A myriad of colours danced around the room. Cormack spoke to the assembled group.

“This crystal can reflect any light or any scene. It represents the great gift of imagination, that used well will enable Olivia to achieve what she wants in life.”

His voice became solemn as he added:” used wrongly, it will bring sorrow and catastrophe.”

Through the years that Olivia was growing up, Cormack visited the family as often as he could. Olivia loved his visits. They would walk, play and ride out together. Olivia shared her hopes and dreams with him and they were very close. In her fifteenth year, Cormack was taken from her. After a short illness, he died. Olivia was devastated. She became inconsolable, took to her bed and withdrew from life. Occasionally, she was seen consulting medical books and making notes. Otherwise she sat for hours, looking out of her window lying in bed. Sometimes, in the dark hours of night, she would get up to check that her mother and father were still alive.

The King and Queen had no idea how to bring back the happy child they knew. Physicians came and went, unable to effect any change. Time passed.

One day, an elderly woman arrived at the gates of the castle and asked to see the King and Queen. She offered to help their daughter. The king and queen although not hopeful, noticed the sincerity in her eyes and agreed.

The woman found Olivia, pale and thin, staring out of the window. She rummaged in a box of Olivia’s private treasures, by her bed. Olivia was affronted that the woman would do this, and challenged her. Without a word, the woman gently attached the pendant with a purple stone around Olivia’s neck. Then she spoke, asking Olivia to shut her eyes and imagine she was walking near the castle with Cormack. Tears rolled down Olivia’s face, as she saw Cormack with her in the castle grounds as if it were a vivid dream.

The woman spoke softly:

“Cormack is showing you a crystal and you can see the colours reflected from it. The season is winter. There is cold, desolation and ice but look, Cormack is showing you some tiny snowdrops emerging from the ground. He wants you to see how the ice crystals sparkle in the sun. He is showing you the beauty of it. Now he is holding a book Olivia” she continued.

“Notice the gold embossed writing on the cover. He’s reading something to you’

‘and the little blue bird could not find food for her chicks, because the ground was so hard with ice and it seemed as if death was all around her. Every day the Blue bird left to hunt for morsels to keep her chicks alive although she herself was becoming weaker. Then there was only one chick remaining. The little blue bird left the nest to forage for food, knowing she only had hours left to live. Then she saw it – a worm that was frozen but still edible. She picked it up and flew back to the nest. She gave the worm to her one remaining check and said today you must fly, this ice will pass and life will go on… And with that, the little blue bird died.’

And now, Olivia it is time to sleep, long and deeply and when you awake, you will know that tomorrow is a new day.

Olivia slept for many hours. When she awoke, the woman was gone but she felt at peace. She got up from her bed. There were things to do.

Hilary Farmer