FF – Exceptionally Beautiful

This morning, I met my son’s toddler gymnastics teacher. She smiled and said, with honest enthusiasm, “You look exceptionally beautiful today.” I am desperately tired, wrestling a cold myself and two children who have also got it and have entirely forgotten how to sleep at night, at least in their own beds. It will pass, we will get through it, but hearing “You look ex…” my brain completed it with “…hausted.”

I could barely keep my eyes open. The short walk to class felt like a mountain climb. I looked exhausted. But apparently the top I had chosen at random from the drawer this morning – one which I love and which is in a colour that I’ve always thought suits me – meant I looked something else too.

I’m not writing this out of pride or self-pity. I’m grateful not just for the compliment, but for the reminder – we can be many things all at once. It’s better to focus on the good ones!


Exceptionally Beautiful

Pin-pricks of light scattered across the ceiling. Annalise thought about the star-cloth backdrop they’d had at their wedding. It was a silly thing to focus on, especially today. Light was just light, after all. Thomas was lying in a box in the next room, and people were filing past shaking her hand or putting arms around her and saying things in hushed tones that she couldn’t hear.

The stairs swept up around her and she briefly wondered where they led. What happens on the second floor of a crematorium?

But more, she focused on the light. It was exceptionally beautiful.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

41 responses to “FF – Exceptionally Beautiful

  1. Nicely observed. Loved the visual link between the start of their life together and the end.

  2. Yes, I think we need to find that light sometimes, not only when we are at the bottom, but every day… love how you got the inspiration for the story.

  3. That captures very well the numb incomprehension of grief

    • I’m so glad you felt that, Neil. I couldn’t decide whether the endin was a bit abrupt in a sense, but I wanted to give the feeling that she’s standing there just whirling in her grief and not yet really ‘feeling’ it.

  4. Sad. Kind of creepy in a way. Nice work, Jen!

  5. A nice reminder about finding the positive. I remember focusing on distractions while publicly grieving.
    Chicken soup for all, that’s my Rx,

  6. Her thoughts swirling, stunned, by death, by shock, by love, numbed and surreal. Well done. Randy

  7. What an awesome piece, Jennifer. I also loved the intro. Sometimes an angel whispers a message of encouragement and support when we need it most. There is beauty in all things, especially an exhausted mother of two small children, all battling colds.

  8. Dear Jennifer,

    I think you’ve captured the moment that none of us look forward to, that of burying a spouse. Exceptionally well done. Hope you can get some rest.



  9. I also think you’ve captured a very personal, lonely moment we all have to go through at sometime. Nicely done

  10. I love it that she saw the bright side of it all. Such a resilient character!

  11. Pingback: FF – Lights | elmowrites

  12. So weird… I remember this photo and your story feels familiar yet I see not my face in the crowd!
    Then again, it might have touched me more deeply… beautifully done.

  13. Beautifully written and so full of hope for a future.

  14. To look beyond the darkness, to see the light, it’s a wondrous gift as we travel through this life. This story absolutely captures it. What a treat to read!

  15. Random events can trigger such very important memories

  16. Clearly, you’ve touched a chord here. I didn’t read every comment, but the ones I did scan picked up my own reactions. Terry and I have been married for 52 years. Neither of us is enjoying wonderful health. I imagine that, if he goes first, I would react much as your MC did. I will need distractions, but I’m rather practical in such situations. I suspect the private grief that no one else will see will be far different from what other DO see.

    I’m not usually so wordy in my responses! See, you’ve done an exceptionally good job, making me ramble on like that 🙂

    • I think we all handle grief inwardly and outwardly, and none of us really knows how another feels, or how we will feel ourselves in that circumstance. I’m glad / sorry this story touched you that way and wish you both a long, happy time together.

  17. As with sunlight, it’s always there even when a dark cloud shields for a moment. A touching tale.

    Here’s mine!

  18. one of the best i’d read from you. well done.

  19. Maybe Thomas was there, in the light, shining down on her? We can only guess where the spirit goes after death. He was comforting her in her grief. Beautiful story.

    • We can only guess, indeed. I think there is comfort, whether it is from the ‘spirit’ of the passed or something else. And as I say to my kids, nobody is gone so long as we love them.

  20. Oh, you’ve written that exquisitely. You capture so well how her sense of loss and loneliness are intensified by the people around her – and how, despite this, she can feel the beauty of the light.

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