The assignment is: after you have died, your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see?
I could see the brick house from where I crouched in the woods. The sun was still slightly warm on my shoulders, but the minutes counting down to the creeping chill of approaching dark where not far away. I was still breathing heavy from the exertion of jumping logs, moving stones and narrowly escaping the clutches of an evil sorcerer. It had been a ingenious plan of escape with only the birds that hovered in the trees above to witness. Behind me the last specks of magic were falling to the woods floor. Their tinkling sounds muted by leaves that had recently fallen heralding in another season. In front of me, the house. Real life complete with hushed whispers surrounding my dying grandfather and the heaviness of time that magic can’t heal.
My beloved grandfather was dying and was spending some of his last days at his farm. It was one of his many ventures, this farm; with its now untended fruit orchards, barren vegetable gardens, a pasture where cows now longer grazed lazily and woods that still held fleeting magic for a young girl precariously balanced between being a princess battling a sorcerer and a young adult dealing with the death of a loved grizzled old man.
In the next five minutes I was going to have to emerge from the woods and open the door to the house. The door that used to open to a weary and triumphant princess. Welcoming her back with the smells of warm bread sticks, seasoned meat and a pie if lucky. PawPaw would be sitting in his recliner watching National Geographic and complaining about how late dinner was although it was always right on time. Nana would be scurrying around like a little sparrow tending her nest and making sure that everything was in its perfect place. There was just enough time before I had to scrub up to rattle off to PawPaw what adventures I had. It was these few moments that I could make his eyes sparkle. He could see the magic.
This time there would be no complaining about dinner. He rarely ate anymore. There would be no sparkle in his eyes. His eyes no longer focused on the magic. I picked up a small stone from the edge of the woods and ran my finger over its texture. It was a stone just like this that I had used to line the path to my cottage that I had spent the summer building out of twigs and branches. There was still magic in this stone. If I closed my eyes tight enough against the pain of life I could feel it pulse in my hand. In those last five minutes I made a choice for the rest of my life. I knew this would probably be the last time I would be in those magical woods. I knew that in the coming weeks I would say goodbye forever to the magic sparkle in my PawPaw’s eyes. With the stone clutched firmly in my hand I pushed myself away from the shelter of those woods, but the magic was coming with me.
No matter what stabbing pain the life outside of the woods would bring, I would hold onto that small pulse of magic. I would share it with whoever would be willing to see it and I would always see the sparkle in someone’s eyes. In those last five minute, I was choosing to hold onto something that would not die as long as I held tightly to it and believed in its power to always take me back to the woods where my heart and the birds hovering in the trees held witness to the power of magic.