“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is Thank You, It will be enough”

— Meister Eckhardt.

The above quote was framed on the front cover of a journal bound with sage green fabric. It caught my eye in Barnes and Noble a few weeks after my step-father’s death in 2004. I purchased it with the intention of honoring my memories of him as my bonus dad. At home, I placed it on my nightstand waiting for inspiration. A year later, I slid the blank book in the top drawer.

Journaling was cathartic as a nomadic military dependent crossing into adulthood. Poetry, newspaper articles and illustrations recycled unused spiral notebooks at the end of the school year. I envied my girlfriends who owned cute diaries with tiny keys for the lock guarding confessions. As a new mother, childhood markers filled pages of intentionally chosen journals. A marital counselor made journaling a homework assignment during my first marriage. I intentionally bought a black one.

Nineteen years and two published novels later, that blank prayer journal remained in the nightstand. Recently commissioned to interview friends of the late Henry Kuznik, I needed a journal to keep notes in. I had an appointment at 2:00 p.m. I grabbed my blank journal and shoved it into a polka dot book bag. To assure my guest I could author, I’d included my novels, Ameera Unveiled and Gardenia Duty. Gardenia Duty was based on actual events with my step-father and our family that should have been recorded in the prayer journal. I felt it was fitting that it would be used to tell Mr. Kuznik’s journey as a German survivor of WWII and finding his American dream in Charleston, SC. As I drove downtown, I looked into the beautiful blue sky over the marina and said thank you to Henry for his generosity to our community.

Halfway through the interview, I noticed something pink tucked in the back of the journal. I pulled out a greeting card and on the front, was the following verse:

She had a fondness for Gardenias.

Like a favorite private memory, they made her happy. She’d take daily cuttings and place their creamy velvet-like blooms in jelly jars and old china bowls all over her house.

She’d smile and breathe in deeply. “Like many things in life,” said she, “their stay is too brief, but while they are here the air is filled with MAGIC.”

I opened and read: “Thinking of your dad. Love always, Sharon.”

Trying to hide the distraction, I tucked it back. That gardenia card was from my best friend in 2004 and I must have placed it in the journal before it went into a 19 year hibernation. As I drove off from the interview, there was an eerie irony of a prophetic gardenia sympathy card and the gardenia in Gardenia Duty. The creamy velvet-like blooms had manifested in my late step-father’s tale in jelly jars and his garden. The deep meaning of gardenias had nudged its way throughout my novel released in 2019.

As I dialed my girlfriend to remind her of the message I had tucked away, I sensed the fragrance of my father’s nurturing and loving heart with the totem of a gardenia. His stay was too brief but he filled our lives with MAGIC.