Guarding the Unicorns

    As we cycle through life on this spinning orb, most of us come to know that the time is too short, that we will be checking out before many of our big plans/dreams are realized.  We have that bucket list, but even then, most of it won't be fulfilled.  Life has often dealt us a bad hand. This creates a conundrum.  Do we only grieve for our broken lives, for the failures, for all the good that will not be done, or do we remember those moments throughout life that created awe and wonder? Are we guarding the unicorns?
    Many years ago I was in personal crisis and working a temporary landscaping job. the company where I was managing editor had gone bankrupt. A seven year marital relationship had imploded in a fireball; not even the ashes were left.  Future prospects seemed dim. As I began planting a flower bed just after a rainstorm, sun rays highlighted a group of rose and violet petunias. For a few seconds, I was mesmerized by their beauty and grateful for the image. A ripple of light.  All of us should have those times that we can embrace and then file away in a mental scrapbook, to be recalled when the darkness threatens.
    You are riding a Greyhound bus from point A to point B. You have just experienced the devastating loss of a close family member. The weather outside matches your mood; bleak with little sign of lifting. The bus seat is uncomfortable. This trip will not end soon. As you begin to nod off, a woman a couple of rows back begins to quietly sing, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."  At this time, at this moment, it is what you needed to hear. A ripple of light.
    A young soldier has served overseas in a combat zone for fifteen months.  Unending heat and dust.  Death. The unknown of IEDs and sudden ambushes.  The swoop of fighter jets in response. The Dear John letter comes one month before return to the real world. Three years of dating and one engagement ring up in smoke.  The young soldier disembarks at a hometown airport.  He is met by a girl who was a classmate in high school. He had almost forgotten about her. She is smiling broadly. A ripple of light.
    You have been on a camping trip. The family dog has disappeared. Lost among the tall pines. You spend hours frantically looking for the dog without luck.  The children are devastated.  You return home, having left your phone number at the ranger station. Nothing. Two weeks later at 3 am you hear a whining and scratching at the back door.  It is the dog, worse for wear. It has traveled forty miles and found its way home. A ripple of light.
    She has worked for the same company for almost twenty years.  Invested most of her waking hours into being exceptional at her job. Gets a pink slip out of the blue.  Company's operations moving to China.  No farewell party.  She sends out hundreds of resumes. Nothing. Savings almost gone.  Out of the blue a former college roommate calls.  Wants her to run the business end of an online startup for pet needs. Begin next week. A ripple of light.
    The block you live on has just been devastated by a sudden tornado.  Miraculously your house is unscathed. There is even power. You don't know many of your neighbors by name, mostly just faces.  You open your home to those who have lost everything but their lives.  You make coffee and sandwiches. A family arrives at your door. A small child is clutching a wet teddy bear. He thrusts the bear towards you, says it wants a cookie. A ripple of light.
    Your elderly father is in poor health. You drive him, probably for the last time, to visit his surviving sibling. It is in the mountains, away from everything. The two of them reminisce about old times. Mostly good, some very bad. A real history lesson. Your father can't sleep that night. He asks you to take him outside. Both of you slowly walk to a nearby field. You hold him close, feel his warmth. You both look up. The sky full of a billion stars. A cascade of light.  You are guarding the unicorns.