“Sweet as” was in the glossary I picked up from fellow travelers during my recent adventure.
It’s a New Zealand term of assurance: all is well, “no worries” (a phrase that now hits my ear as well-meaning but oxymoronic, a double-negative coupling of “no” and brow-furrowed “worries”; like being told not to envision a pink elephant, if I’m told not to worry, I’m going to worry).
Where “no worries” comes to a declarative full stop, the object-less “sweet as” is gloriously open-ended, and calls to mind all my (slightly belated) Valentines.
The list is, as we say in the business, not limited by enumeration.
My friend Barbara’s face when I first saw her, not knowing she’d made the long trip, downstairs at Phillips Church after hundreds of people had paid their respects and filed out. (She does not know that the purple glass chimes she gave me years ago now hang on the window overlooking my Brady’s garden. Their gentle clinking restores the missing sound of his bright blue tags as he made his way from flower to flower.)
The friend who told me he’d be there in ten minutes–from another state, on a traffic-filled holiday weekend–when I desperately texted that I had to make an unbearable decision about my beloved middle beagle, then dispensed (and even re-collected) a stream of tissues to me in the aftermath.
My newest friends, who made me laugh harder than I have in years, picked me up when I slipped on Morocco monkey ice (story to come), taught me Australian card games, and tried fruitlessly to contain me from overspending my dirham.
George, a wildly busy colleague whose wife had died when his children were very young. He always took my calls, called me when I had been silent too long, and knew when it was time for me to go back to the job I loved.
Joe and Diane, who showed up to help me move a daughter into her freshman dormitory when Jim could not, and who took all of us into their home when the same daughter graduated.
A network of people I’ve never met in person, who take the trouble to read my blog and leave me messages about posts and share their own thoughts.
Friends who sent me flowers on Mother’s Day and after my father died, who helped my children when I could not get to them because of competing crises in other states and countries, who shared their own heartaches with us and helped us see “the size of the cloth.”
G., who secured for me the music for Jupiter and in whose office I knew I could always appear and get my bear hug without needing to speak.
Bethany, whom I met getting ready to go on a great big stage where we both told our stories, and arranged for me and my son to hear a long sold-out John Hiatt show after I told her the story of the golden CD my husband had burned for me years before I found it.
Jim’s lifelong friends, who visited him when he was sick and brought him a touchstone of their shared past, and who still invite me to their family events and allow me to be a part of theirs and their children’s and even their grandchildren’s lives. Jim’s family, who became my family long ago.
David Subnaught (so-dubbed to distinguish him among many distinguished college Davids), a classmate of Jim’s who flew from Colorado to the East Coast to be there for my eldest son’s graduation two months to the day after Jim died.
Tineke, my best woman, the first person I called. She literally fed me, cooking from scratch the only things she knew would tempt me, when I could not manage even that. Best man Jon, who drove to us on the night we finally brought Jim home bearing pictures he’d taken the night before our wedding and had us all laughing so hard we may have unnerved our children. Randy and Judy. Dr. Bob.
You know who you are.