43: The Desk

43: The Desk

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

The Desk

Accept the things to which fate binds you and love the people with whom fate brings you together, and do so with all your heart.

~Marcus Aurelius

I got the mahogany desk in my early twenties, after my grandfather passed away and my grandmother gave away most of their possessions in order to move in with my aunt. I felt my grandparents’ presence when I stroked the desk’s deep cherry serpentine molding or tugged on its worn but sturdy brass handles to open its dovetailed drawers.

When I sat at the desk to write a letter, I’d picture Grandma doing the same. At times, I smelled her scent in the room, a faint hint of sweet rose petals and delicate honeysuckle. Often, I’d daydream about the energy captured in the desk, the decades it had traveled with my grandparents, the thousands of times they laid their hands upon it.

That desk was full of the spirit of Grandma and Grandpa — two people who were the most loving and happy couple I’d ever known. They were the best example of the kind of relationship I hoped to have someday.

For the next thirty years, the desk traveled with me — through a short-lived marriage and through multiple relationships. When Grandma passed away, the desk became even more important to me.

When I married again at age forty-two, the desk accompanied me through eight years of significant emotional hardships that ended in a painful divorce. I lost most of my material possessions, but I insisted on keeping the desk, and it went into storage while I traveled around figuring out the next phase of my life. When I settled down again, in a rented room, the desk seemed an impractical luxury, so I gave it to my sister.

A year later, my life had turned around. I moved across the country to be with a man who would become as wonderful a partner for me as Grandpa was for Grandma. He’d also been through a recent divorce. Together, we had very little furniture, which was fortunate because we could only afford to live in a tiny, overpriced cottage. We appreciated our forced downsizing. We worked side-by-side in our combo office-bedroom and played music together in our combo kitchen-living room, filling the rooms with love and laughter. Life was simple. I’d never been happier.

Two years later, we moved to Arizona and rented a house three times the size of the California cottage for several hundred dollars less per month. To fill what felt like cavernous spaces in the house, I perused online ads for used furniture and stumbled upon a listing that took my breath away. It looked just like my grandparents’ desk.

Courtney, the seller, drove forty-five minutes to show us the desk. She had bought it for her daughter because it reminded her of her own grandmother’s desk. She lamented having to sell it, but she was moving and couldn’t justify lugging it around. When I explained what the desk meant to me, the energy in and around the exchange felt right. There, in a convenience store parking lot, we sealed the deal.

My car was too small to accommodate the desk, so I asked Courtney if she would mind delivering the desk to our house. She agreed, especially after I mentioned the cross streets to her.

“Oh, I know where that is,” she said. “My sister used to live around there.”

When Courtney pulled up to our home, she stepped out of her SUV, and exclaimed, “Yep, this is it. My sister lived in this house for four years. She moved out a couple of months ago.”

I shook my head in disbelief at the coincidence and then smiled. It was all coming together. It almost felt like Grandma and Grandpa were giving their approval for my new life, having conspired to deliver us the perfect housewarming gift — a used, sentimental desk with serpentine molding.

~Susan Maddy Jones

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