Where the sunbeam ends

In late February, we had our only snow this winter.

I woke in the morning to find the sun shining through the crape myrtle I planted when we first moved here. Ice crystals glittered on the tree limbs like a thousand prisms—tiny, brilliant rainbow lights. I took a picture. When I looked at the image, the word that came to mind was holy.

Maybe it was the brightness of the sun. The reaching ray of light. The purity of snow. The hush, the stillness. Just a sense of divine glory, of peace.

And then I noticed where that sunbeam ended.

Oh, how I recalled, in that instant, first reading Where the Red Fern Grows when I was around ten years old. It tore my heart out. I wept for weeks. A dog story, of course. And hardship, love, and sacrifice. Wilson Rawls wrote:

I had heard the old Indian legend about the red fern. How a little Indian boy and girl were lost in a blizzard and had frozen to death. In the spring, when they were found, a beautiful red fern had grown up between their two bodies. The story went on to say that only an angel could plant the seeds of a red fern, and that they never died; where one grew, that spot was sacred.

That’s when the boy, Billy, finds a red fern growing between the graves of his two dogs.

Look where my sunbeam ends.

Directly over the grave of my family’s little dachshund, Nik, who was with us for sixteen years. That’s his memorial statue rising up from the snow.

No red fern, of course.

But sacred, just the same.

23 thoughts on “Where the sunbeam ends

  1. You’re such a beautiful writer, Fran. The mixture of well-chosen description, well-placed fragments…you really paint a picture. And the way you weave your memory of that classic book into this moment in the present is just lovely.

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  2. Wow! Just wow! I see it! My heart was touched this morning by your images and words. We had a family dachshund for 12 years, Isabel.

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    • Isabel is a great name for a female dachshund! They are the lovingest little dogs. We lost Nik in 2018 but last Christmas got a new little dachshund puppy, Dennis. I am sure I will be slicing about him; he’s a MESS!

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  3. Beautiful, lyrical memory of planting the tree, reading the book, missing a beloved pet. I remember that book, too. It’s one that makes me feel more human. This slice really touches my heart. I love all the connections you make.

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    • I have missed Nik and have felt a good deal of angst (guilt?) about the decision to let him go. He was always so full of love. That photo … it filled me with peace. A rightness in the universe, surely.

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  4. >But sacred, just the same.<

    The photo by itself would have been plenty. Then, the sunbeam. Goodness. Sacred, indeed. Thank you for allowing us into your sunbeam. The warmth of your words and meaning in them is tangible to me.

    ♥️

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  5. Where the Red Fern Grows was required reading when I was in school, and the main reason why I don’t read many animal books anymore; I can’t take the heartbreak! I’m glad you found a moment of beauty to illuminate your personal connection with the story, though. Your heart is wide enough to take in the sorrow and see the joy.

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    • I cannot believe this book was required reading -! It nearly destroyed me. But it was an early lesson in understanding sacrificial love and just how much emotional impact a story can have. Yes – there’s beauty in it 🙂

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  6. Where the Red Fern Grows broke my heart, no it shattered it. To this day I still can’t read the very end. I kind of pull a Phoebe Buffay and stop at the second to last chapter. The way you close this piece while simple it’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing this lovely and sentimental Slice.

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