February 23, 2022
Cycle of Anxiety
March 9, 2022


Where do your connections lie? Humans, like horses, thrive when part of a stable group. Unlike horses, humans have stuff – items that remind us of our connections. 

The Ring from Aunt Ruth

Many of my connections are to my large, extended family. A few weeks ago, I visited my Aunt Ruth, my father’s sister. Aunt Ruth is the matriarch of my extended family – one of the connectors of our clan. She is the second oldest in a family of 6 and was the unofficial head of the family. So many childhood holidays were celebrated together. Ruth, tiny in physical stature, was always in the middle “C’mon kids! Let’s get this going!” Now, she is 100 years old and as fun as ever.  

When we visited, I wore a ring she gave me back when I was in college. I said, “look, I still have the ring you gave me in the 80’s. I love it and have bought other jewelry to go with it.”  She grabbed my hand exclaiming, “I gave you that!? I am a nice aunt!” 

This visit adds another memory to attach to that ring.

Lost in the Fire

And yet the ring is not the connection. Years ago, I had a major house fire. First responders, neighbors, and friends came to my aid. I went to bed at my son’s place. At 3 am, I startled awake. Feeling completely overwhelmed by the day’s events, I could not sleep and was physically shaking. Not wanting to wake anyone else, I called a 24-hour hotline and poured out my jumbled thoughts.  

“I can’t sleep, I’ve lost so much, the fire started in my library where I have so many important things. My grandmother’s desk, the rocking chair my mother rocked me in, books and more that I can’t even picture right now.”  

The crisis volunteer calmed my panic by empathizing with my terror and loss. “It sounds like you lost a lot of things that were given to you by people you love and who are important to you.”  


“It may be too soon to say this, but despite your tragedy, it sounds like you haven’t lost the love of those people which is the real treasure.”  

She was right. And it helped that she clarified what I had and had not lost in the fire. One item was a childhood book about the horses of Assateague. The memory was not gone. A road trip provided the opportunity to stop at the National Park for a few hours. Just as we were leaving the horses stepped out of the woods to stand in the evening breeze by the shore. Just like that, all my positive memories about that book flooded back in.

The material things I will not get back. Someday, I could lose or break the ring that Aunt Ruth so nicely gave to me. Aunt Ruth’s love, laughter, and smiles will be with me anyway. 

Connectors are such elusive things. Jewelry, photos, mementos are tangible reminders of those relationships. The real magic is in the connections, the relationships with people and the events that create the memories.  

Where, who, how do you make connections?  

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Laura A. Gaines