She was smart. She had this way of talking that intrigued and intimidated me. Every sentence it seemed was carefully constructed with only the best words -- like a great poem. She would lean in to hear-- gathering your words into her ears --visibly delighting in you as though you were speaking the same lyrical beauty.
Even breakfast was composed of the best things. When I visited my cousins Thara and Ithiel and would sleepily make my way to the table for breakfast, I was greeted with the best part of the meals from days before. Meat and potatoes and fruit and nuts and everything not Oatmeal and Eggs (my family's staple) spread across the large wood table with no judgment. I wish I could remember what she said about Breakfast during that visit. I can only now make out the melody of her voice. She had learned something new about breakfast and that you should eat what your body longed for.
I played the piano for Maxine without her having to ask. She would smile audibly with her sighs even when my fingers would stumble over key signatures. I would sing for her, too, which was a big deal because her voice was exquisite. Whatever I chose to share with her was always enough but never enough at the same time. She wanted more and would coax me out of insecurity and into the light.
It was a lot to take in for a wounded little soul -- all this lavish affection and delight in the smallest of things that were me. On the morning that i would leave Aurora, IL and go back home, she came into Thara's bedroom and drew me into her arms and held me like she never wanted to let me go. I pretended to be asleep in order to prolong the moment. It worked. Her words and breath swirled around me while she rocked me back and forth. And then she kissed my cheek and forehead and chin while caressing my face.
She delighted in me.
Years later this scene would happen again: Maxine sitting on the side of my bed and holding me while we rocked back and forth and me, afraid to cut the moment short, pretending to be asleep. It was nice to be held like you were the only person she would ever want to hold again. And even though I knew there were others that she loved even more deeply and even longer than she loved me, it didn't matter. It was always enough even when I wanted more.
Everyone should have a Maxine in their life.
If she could hold me right now I would be awake for every second of it and if she let go before I was ready I would hold onto her tighter. I've learned now to snuggle into another body. It can last a long time. Someone's tender words can rest on top of my head and their kisses can linger on my skin and for a moment I can be among the lucky ones. There are meat and potatoes for breakfast and music played fearlessly no matter how many flats and sharps. There is a large can of planter's cashews for train rides back home simply because you delight in them and don't have to worry about the calories. You won't have to eat them all but you could if you wanted to. She taught me that.