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A Pocket of Memories

chocolate heart shaped cookie

In the middle of the night, a pocket of memories floated up. A treasure was long forgotten.

Twenty years ago, we were living as a family in the centre of Bedford. It was a rented 'tardis type' house spread over three floors with long rooms and a small courtyard at the back. The kitchen was in the middle with a window looking out over the alleyway between the houses, and directly opposite the kitchen window of our immediate neighbour.

I would often look up from washing the dishes and our neighbour would be doing the same. We would smile at each other. She was beautiful and petite, standing by the sink in her flowing robes.

Over time we started to swap baked goodies between our homes. Apple pies and cakes would come from our kitchen and eastern delicacies would flow from hers. She didn't speak a word of English and I cannot speak Urdu, so her children translated for us.

One morning she knocked at our door and held out a tiny baby in a papoose. Her children explained that it was raining and would I mind looking after their baby brother, while their Mum walked them to school. I had no idea our neighbour was expecting and quickly recovered as I held her little one. I felt privileged to be trusted and looked forward to rainy mornings.

I was running a handmade jewellery business at the time, and I would also hold children's parties, where they made bracelets and necklaces to take home later. It was great fun. Our neighbour's daughters saw my beads one day and we started spending time together. They taught me how to tie the ends off properly on necklaces, and we traded beads, and hints and tips, sitting on their bedroom floor or in my work room.

In our lives, it wasn't all roses around the door with birds flying in a blue sky, as both of us were in marriages that were tricky, with an undercurrent of financial troubles. We never spoke of it though. Looking back, it would not have been right to have the children translate our difficulties and also, it felt intrusive for each of us to mention what we had witnessed from being neighbours. There were many shared looks of understanding between us though.

We did not live in that house for long and we didn't stay in touch after we moved.

It was four years later and I was newly divorced and visiting the local swimming baths and there in the shallow end, teaching her son to swim, was our lovely neighbour. I swam over and her daughters swam across from the other side of the pool. What a reunion we had full of loving kindness and understanding.

As I lay in the dark remembering, I sensed it was a loving reminder that we are all connected. That no matter what happens, there are blessings in the every day from these connections.


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