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Tea, Patchouli and Mezuzahs

Today as I kneaded my challah dough, I thought about Louise.

Her face hasn’t appeared in my memory or my life in a long time. Suddenly it occurs to me that her face has been popping into my head at the most random moments recently.

That’s what happens when you knead some dough, it gives you the space to make sense of the random things that pop into your brain. Louise. She must be making appearances in my (semi) conscious mind for a reason. I will reach out to her today.

Louise is a spectacular woman. She floated into my life, on wings of pashmina and delicate notes of patchouli and . . . something else . . . a mysterious floral, likely from the latest village in the Amazonian jungle that she had just been living in. This was at a time when I was still mostly unformed as my own woman, and fascinated by this larger than life person. She somehow combined womanly grace and extreme strength, with her (frizzy) black hair flowing and untamed like a storm cloud, and her sweet smile and fierce hugs.

I had some tea with her in her apartment. I put a mezuzah on her door. She had never heard about a mezuzah and loved the idea of a spiritual talisman. She had so many talismans already, from the furthest reaches of the world, every culture but her very own, represented in her colorful life.

She told me of her longing to be a mother and her worries that it would never manifest. She hugged my little ones with such pure love, I knew she would make a wonderful mother.

Louise left New York to live elsewhere, she never did seem able to stay in one place for very long.

She called me out of the blue one day. Her house in California burnt down to the ground. Everything was gone. The only thing that remained, from her colorful collection of cultures, completely and utterly untouched . . .the mezuzah I had given her, that was hanging on her new front door.

I told her that things get better after a fire.

And they did. She met the love of her life after the fire, she got married, and miraculously, without a thought, even though she had seen 40 come and go, she became pregnant and had a son.

Now when I spoke with Louise, it was a whole different side that we connected over. She was a mother now, grounded, living right near her own mother . . .incredible for Louise.

Then things happened. I spoke with her when I was sick, and she shared with me that her husband was sick as well. I recovered, but her husband, sadly, did not. And Louise picked up with her son and started once again to travel.

I don’t know where she is today. Too much time has passed since we last connected. But while making my challah and reflecting on those women who have come and gone in my life, leaving their indelible mark on me. Louise stands out today.

So I will call her now. Reconnect with this amazing force of a woman. And I will remember our bond, forged over tea and patchouli, love and loss and a very special mezuzah. I hope she has it with her today, wherever in the world she may be.

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