Wendy is a woman who taught me about myself without trying.
She showed me how to pick up ants, by licking my finger and pressing on them. All afternoon I had been trying to grab them between my fingers and she stood across the road, laughing joyfully.
She had a small long braid like I do now and sometimes wore feathers.
One day she showed me a picture of a Cherokee woman and said she was a princess. She said it in a strange, melancholy way. I had never seen a princess like that before.
In the winter, I sometimes knocked on her door and asked for an icicle. The ones that grew on Wendy's pitched overhang were enormous. I liked to break off their ends to dip into sugar or maple syrup. She gave me permission to eat or take whatever I could, but never helped me break them off or carry them home. Instead, she just stood outside with me and watched, smiling.
She had a collection of these incredibly realistic dolls at her house, too. Zook dolls?
Once she hosted a little party in her basement and I made one with my mom and a friend.
It was fun making my own doll, even though the bowls of eyes and hair were a little creepy. I named my doll Alexis.
Wendy never told me that I looked like a doll.
She complimented me on how many ants I caught and how many icicles I could carry, but never told me what a pretty little angel I was.
I never realized growing up how much Wendy was helping to strengthen my character. She was a woman of integrity who loved herself and exuded love for everything around her. Her energy was infectious. She didn't have to do anything but be to spread it. Sometimes I wondered if she was not also the princess in the picture...
And then one day, Wendy died.
It was painful to have her death explained to me.
She had a brain aneurysm in the driveway and the sound of her head on the horn sirened her death to the neighborhood.
I missed her then and I think I still do. But a part of me felt like she didn't actually go anywhere.
I don't want to call it a 'soul' but I remember feeling like her radiance was spilling out into the dirt.
Like a kind of golden liquid from a vial.