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By Helena Smrcek


Starting the car, phone on speaker, I knew my tardiness would mess up her day. My hairdresser kept her appointment book full. “I’m on my way,” I said, leaving the driveway. “Fifteen minutes.”

Finally in her chair, I blamed the bees. I was to take the frames off the hive. My husband offered to extract the honey, using the brand-spanking-new stainless steel extractor he purchased, instead of the DIY contraption I asked for.

Due to a beekeeper’s error there were complications. A honey super holds ten frames. I only put in nine. The diligent workers bridged the gap with honeycomb. As soon as I touched it, there was honey everywhere. Despite the angry bees, and my hair appointment, I had to clean it out.



“I brought you a sample,” I said hoping a jar of sweetness would grant me her pardon. She thanked me with a smile. “You remind me of my mom,” she said softly. “We lived on the farm, but she wasn’t a farm girl. We had animals and a large vegetable garden. To balance things out she grew flowers.” My hairstylist folded a foil in my hair and patted it into place. “Even in the midst of war, where people struggled to find food, she had her flowers, cut them, and brought them to the neighbours.”

We talked about her childhood before. Today, the harsh reality struck me again. This girl, immaculately dressed, with makeup and hair worthy a photo shoot, experienced life I couldn’t imagine. I knew her as an entrepreneur, a determined salon owner, one of the best in her profession; yet this remarkable woman lived through horror.

“My mom dreamed of being a teacher,” she continued. “During the war she ran a free neighbourhood daycare. She’d take us to the river and teach us, making up songs about amphibians and things like that. She wanted to give us a normal childhood. “

Admiration filled my heart. “She sounds amazing,” I said, feeling the inadequacy of my words.

“She was. When she passed, many people told us how much they missed her warcookies—I miss her strawberry sorbet the most.”

Finished with the foils, she reached for the timer. “I wish I had her recipe. My sister and I went to Italy last summer, tried gelato everywhere we went. There was only one that came close. It tasted like wild strawberries.”

I looked around the salon. This beautiful young woman made a life for herself, despite the war, the refugee camp, and PTSD. Her mother’s love gave her strength and taught her to persevere. I couldn’t help but imagine her mom smiling from the realms of eternity, with pride, wrapped in the essence of flowers and wild strawberries, whispering words of encouragement to her daughter. Love, much like the sweet honeycomb, has the power to bridge the gaps others leave in our lives, to fill the empty coldness, and offer hope. Embrace its power, accept it, and then pass it on.