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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

It's been weeks since I've had my usual Saturday morning ritual of sitting down at my favorite bakery with my Fortune Cookie journal. Our weekends have been full of museum visits, impromptu trips, and good visits with out of town friends. I realize that I could make time to write in this journal at any time, but there's something about Saturday mornings. I tend to be awake before most of the world and there's something about the stillness and quiet of these mornings that makes it easy to sit and write. This Saturday, I woke to drizzly rain and in that quiet and stillness, drove to the bakery. I placed my order, made myself comfortable at the counter table and pulled out my journal. I opened the journal to next prompt and paused. Laugh often, love hard, eat and repeat. 

Of course. Of course this would be the fortune cookie prompt that I would get after weeks of inactivity, just three days before what would have been my eighteenth wedding anniversary. We were going to get married on March fifteenth, but then remembered that we should "beware the ides of March" and chose the sixteenth instead. Chris made me laugh often, that's for sure. He made everyone laugh often. Chris had this sharp dry wit that was smart and so well timed. I have not met another person, with the exception of maybe Chad or Talaura, who could make me laugh so much. And love? He was my first love, so of course we loved hard. Fierce. It was the kind of love that gave you confidence. We could do anything, handle any misfortune, survive any tragedy as long as we had each other. The whole eating thing was practically a hobby for us. I remember at one time, Chris bought a couple of dinosaurs because he had an idea for a food blog called Dinersaurs. I think the T-rex had a monocle. Most of our vacation stories centered around all the restaurants we experienced. Our whole reason for visiting Eugene OR was to eat pizza at the Pizza Research Institute. Laughter, love and eating were a continuous loop in our life.  

I sold my old Nikon on Craigslist over the weekend. It was my first DSLR. My first fancy pants camera. Chris gave me that camera. I don't know if he bought me that camera because he believed it would foster and encourage artistic qualities in me or if he just bought it because it was a new shiny gadget. Chris was a magpie for any kind of new electronic thing, but he was always encouraging (almost pushing) me to be more creative. Either way, it doesn't really matter. That camera served it's purpose. I learned to be more observant of my surroundings and little bit about light and aperture settings. It was the learning camera. In the same way, my relationship with Chris turned out to be the learning relationship. I just didn't know it at the time. I learned that it was possible to be in a relationship that didn't require constant arguing. I learned that two people could communicate wants and needs with out complaining. I learned that not all relationships were like my parent's.  Constructive communication, compromising and the give and take are the valuable take-away lessons from my time with Chris. I learned how important it is to laugh often. I learned how important it is to love hard and fully and to find the joy in eating. I learned the importance of that continuous loop. 

I marvel at how life changes, but stays the same. Michael bought me the new Nikon, probably less because it was a new shiny gadget and more because he believes in my creative talent. He's told me that I have a better eye for seeing things that not everyone sees. Maybe that's true. I am probably more practiced in the art of observation than some, but only because I work at it daily. Michael makes me laugh often. Maybe not in the same way as Chris did, but he makes me laugh. I love him and his willingness to say yes to every little scheme I come up with. Our joy of eating has expanded beyond the new restaurant find by bringing new ingredients into the kitchen and cooking things together. The loop goes on, just maybe in the opposite direction or the loop is more elliptical than circular, but it's still a loop. Sort of like the rubber band from my rubber band sketches. Malleable. Our lives are malleable, bendy and stretchy. 

Maybe that Fortune Cookie prompt should have said laugh often, love hard, learn continuously, eat and repeat.