I’ve been reading Tiny Beautiful Things for a few days now. The book is a compilation of letters and advice given by Sugar (Cheryl Strayed), the advice columnist for The Rumpus.

(I’m also, at the same time reading American Savage by Dan Savage of ┬áthe Savage Love column, but that wasn’t planned).

Things in these beautifully written responses have struck me, but none so much as this sentence when she was talking about finding a jar of rocks in her mother’s closet after she had passed away:

“Stones we’d found as kids on beaches and trails and the grassy patches on the edges of parking lots and pressed into her hands, our mother’s palms the receptacle for every last thing we thought worth saving.”

When I read the last part of that sentence I almost started crying.

My daughter has been picking up sticks and stones and everything else lately.


She shows me with a ‘look what I found’ and wants to bring them all home. We actually did a painting craft last week with her bucket full of rocks from the beach:

She told me to paint a piggy
She told me to paint a piggy


I don’t know why she wants to collect these things or why she’s decided they are important, and frankly I found it kind of annoying, having her bring these sandy or dirty rocks and sticks back to the house, not knowing what we were supposed to do with them.

And then Sugar came along and reminded me of childhood. Of things that are neat and special just because of their shape or their feel or the way they shine in the sun. And how special it is that I’m the person she shares these special things with.

Tomorrow we leave for our camping trip, and I can only imagine what kind of pebbles she’ll pick up, and the shells from our August trip to PEI, and I’ll reach out my hand and smile back at her and be her receptacle.

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