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Odd, isn't it, how things and animals and people come into your life.
While it's happening, it seems rather random.
You make love to your perfectly healthy husband and a month later, he dies of an aggressive cancer we didn't know he had. Yet somehow you wind up pregnant. You feed a poor, pitiful cat that shows up at your door. You unwittingly start a feud with the owner of the bakery next door to your new coffee house the first day you open.
The next thing you know, you have a pet for the next twenty years, you have your husband's son, and you wind up buying the bakery and hiring the owner who has become a dear friend.
It seems to me that when you look back over the years, you can see how all the pieces of your life's puzzle fit together and you get the distinct feeling that each event was meant to be.
Looking forward, life may be a box of chocolates, as Forrest Gump's mother purported. But when you look back, you realize life is a mosaic. Though you think you're making random choices with each piece you place in your life's work of art, in the end you have a complete picture, and you understand that each one of those pieces was destined to be in just that spot.
Take my moving to Mossy Creek a few years ago, for instance. At the time, I was operating in a fog of grief over my husband's death, and I didn't much care where I was. I just couldn't stay in the place where he and I had spent so many happy years. Yet, what I thought had been a knee-jerk reaction turned out to be one of the main themes in my life's mosaic.
I've found a true home in Mossy Creek. I've been accepted for who I am. Am loved for who I am. And while I stillmiss Michael, it's almost as if I'd been living another life back then.
Now I feel as if I'm adding jewels to my mosaic, not just dull-colored pieces of tile.
Oh gracious. Listen to me, waxing all rhapsodic. I guess I just have mosaics on the brain.
Which one? Which one?
I picked up my top three choices and took them over to the fading spring light of my shop's window to see if that would help me make up my mind.
The Naked Bean's front door opened. "Jayne?"
I glanced over see Ingrid Beechum holding the door open with her back as she wiped her hands on a dish towel. Her dog, Bob, stood patiently at her feet, looking up at me because that's what his beloved mistress was doing. The Chihuahua's sight had gotten so bad, I doubted he could actually see me. The white apron Ingrid always wore was missing, so I knew it was time to close up shop.
"That time already?" I asked.
"Hmmm," she said. "Since you're the boss now, I thought I'd check in before I locked the door . . . for the last time."
We grinned at each other. We'd begun our relationship as mortal enemies, but were now partners . . . of a short.
Several months ago, Ingrid had a health scare about the big "C. Turned out everything was fine, but it put the fear of God in her, and the upshot of that was, she decided to sell Beechum's Bakery to me.
It made good business sense for me, because what complimented gourmet coffee more than bakery goods? And since the bakery shared a wall with The Naked Bean, it wasn't going to take much to make the two shops into one. Or so Dan McNeil, our town handyman, promised me.
From our truculent beginning, Ingrid and I'd had a tacit agreement that I wouldn't sell baked goods, and she wouldn't sell coffee. That meant, of course, that customers had to go from one shop to the other to get both, and many of them did. When the portal was finished, however-hopefully before the weekend was over-they'd no longer have to go outside.
Ingrid and I weren't technically partners, of course, since I owned both places, but I wanted to think of it that way, and I wanted her to think of it that way.
Ingrid still worked at the bakery, but now she had a tidy little nest egg in case something really did happen, and she didn't have to worry about the managerial aspects of running a business, which she never liked anyway, and I loved. Now all she had to do was create her wonderful pies and cookies and cakes.
She was happy. I was happy. Our customers were going to be happy. It was a win-win situation all 'round.