It’s still surprising when something I wrote almost 18 years ago can be brand new to someone. I posted a picture yesterday of my book, “Slap on a little lipstick…You’ll be fine.” Many different people said, “Wait, that’s you?” “You wrote that?” “I’ve had that magnet on my refrigerator for years!” “I have that card on my mirror.” “I didn’t know that was you!” Yes, it’s me.
My mother used to tell me that before I was even of lipstick wearing age. And I learned quickly. She had practiced this self care for years…carrying her “bootstraps” in her purse, in the shade of rose red.
I wanted to start setting up for Christmas yesterday. I knew it would be hard – this first year without my mom here – but I didn’t anticipate the depth of it. I pulled out her little stockings. So beautiful. So delicate. So innocent and full of belief. And the tears began to flow. Make-up drowning tears that washed all of the season away. But there was her face. Right there on the shelf. On the front of the book. Smiling. “Still here,” she said. Still with the same advice. “It’s never wrong to try to be happy…” “You are this day’s survivor, and a thing of beauty…”
When I was having so many surgeries as a teenager, we needed those words quite often. Coming home from the hospital, I would be tired, sad, still trying to shake the anesthesia. “I’m going to the mall…” she would say. “But wait, I don’t think I can go…” “Well, you’re going to miss out then,” she said. “But I don’t want to miss out…” “Then let’s go!” she said. “But I look terrible and I feel terrible,” I whined. “Oh, slap on a little lipstick, you’ll be fine.” she replied. Again and again. And so it was born. I did. I was. And I didn’t miss out. Because of her. She taught me that strength could be a thing of beauty.
I’m sitting next to a little baby Christmas tree this morning. Everything seems different, brand new even. But the tree is decorated. Blinking with delicate hope. And I don’t want to miss out. Everything is still beautiful. I smile, believing in mother’s simply brilliant words, “Slap on a little lipstick, you’ll be fine.”