The Eleventh Gift
Gabby was a giver. She loved giving presents, for no reason at all.
Here are the ten best presents she ever gave.
Gabby drew a picture of her best friend Sally, with a mermaid, in the low tide sand.
Then, when the tide came in and the waves washed it away, she said to Sally, “Now you and the mermaid are dancing in the sea!”
Gabby gave her Mum a pretty box with a ribbon around it. When her Mum opened the ribbon, a beautiful white dove flew out of the box and off into the sky.
One time, all the cousins were down by the creek, having fun.
Gabby showed Rory how to take photos for the heart.
(Holding fingers and thumbs to form a frame, through which she can see kids playing on roper swing over water.)
“They’re the best sort,” she told him. “You can never lose them!”
“And people aren’t posing for the camera, they are being themselves.”
(Two kids laughing with each other, in hand frame.)
Gabby took her older sister out into the backyard.
(Holding hand of sister, happily taking her off the porch, into the backyard at night.)
“Look at your feet,” she said. “Look at your feet, look at your feet, look at your feet…”
(Gabby leading sister who is looking down.)
Then, when they were in just the right place… “Okay, look at the moon!”
(Huge, full moon lighting up the night. Owl circling.)
Gabby gave her the night.
(The two of them running, dancing into streaks of moonlight.)
Gabby gave Thomas a person who would listen to how hard things were.
She never interrupted,
or judged him.
(Boy siting on a rock in park, arms out, talking, exasperated, Gabby, lying back on elbows on grass, listening.)
How good a gift is that!
Gabby wrote a song about her Dad, and sung it for him, just to make him feel invincible.
And never sung it again.
Gabby gave a stranger a smile. Just because the lady looked like she really needed one.
Once a week Gabby told a story to the two kids next door, usually about giants or blob men, or elephants and flowers – anything – as long as the kids were in the story, too.(Younger kids sitting, listening to Gabby up on edge of trampoline.)
Gabby didn’t even realise this was a gift… of imagination.
Lucy was always rushed. Gabby showed her how to stop time.
(Two girls lying, arms spread, in long grass, looking at the sky.)
Gabby left out a small piece of food every night.
She had no idea if a mouse ate it,
or and owl,
or stray dog,
All she knew was that, each night, something out there was full enough to sigh.
Gabby planted a tree for the world. Just to know it would grow and grow and grow.
And house animals, and spiders and birds,
and sunsets and frosty mornings, and storms.
That it would throw off seeds and outlive us all.
“You know what’s best about your gifts?” Mum told her one day. “None of them are something you can take a photo of, or put on a shelf.”
And Gabby gave her Mum a hug that would last until the end of the world.