“I don’t know where to start. How much has dad told you about my mother?” Alanna asked.
“Not much, Cousin Gaia told me more than he did. I think she had it right when she said your mother wasn’t a bad person. She sensed conflict and she was proud of Andrew for not poking into her thoughts ever again after the first time he let his talent slip with Ginger.”
“Well, that explains why he never figured out what she was hiding.”
“I heard she is back in your life now. She and her wife were there when he married Blaire?”
“It wasn’t even that awkward. She’s so happy now. But what’s bugging me now is the package Uncle James just delivered. Wait a minute, I’ll go get it.”
Alanna popped to her feet and dashed up the stairs. Returning in less than a minute, she pushed the portrait across the table, and then read the letter out loud for Cardamon.
“How is this a problem. It’s good news and nice to know your mother never forgot you and cried over what she saw as her own wrongdoing in abandoning you at such a young age.”
“But I’m still blaming her, and I’ve been resentful. I haven’t been as kind to her as to her wife.”
“So, this new information has your own conscience bothering you?”
“It’s really bad. I didn’t realize how mad I was about it. I thought I’d done a good job adjusting to growing up without a mother, and Blaire has been so amazing. Now I’ve got three moms instead of just one.”
“I’m glad you are questioning yourself.” Cardamon nodded his grizzled head.
He smiled at her outraged tone.
“You are a healer. You will become a skilled doctor over the next years of your life. Ethical decisions are going to be your biggest challenge in the future. Who do you save, is one more worthy than another, what is the worst injury, who gets treated first?”
“So why is my guilt trip now a good thing? Why should I have to suffer through this?” Alanna asked.
“Because you are an empath. Because you already have your priorities right, in asking yourself if you could have done better. It pays to look at things, to debrief as your father would say.”
“Okay, so what do you think I should take from this?”
“More important, I want to hear what you intend to do about what you’re feeling.”
“I suppose my first instinct is right. I need to call Ginger and tell her how bad I feel about the way I’ve been keeping her at a distance. I know it hurts. I’ve felt it. I was going to put it off till we go back to Montana for Thanksgiving.”
“So, you will do it right away. That’s good. What else?”
“I can’t beat myself up about the way I felt. I had good reason to be resentful and angry. Now that I know more about Ginger’s story, I should really forgive her.”
“There it is! That’s what I wanted to hear. We’ll work on some teas to for calmness, and meditation today. Both will help in the future when you have to face a difficult memory.”
“I’ll finish up my toast and clean up the dishes,” Alanna volunteered.
“Good girl, we’ll deal with your dreams soon.”
Cardamon eased himself up. Sharing his wisdom with his talented young cousin was going to be both a challenge and pleasure. Was she going to be strong enough for the path she was on? Of course, she came from the Murphy line.
“We’re finished here,” Cardamon said.
Alanna stretched her fingers and sighed.
“I had no idea; we could combine some of these herbs in so many ways. I like knowing that stimulants like cocoa can go in with chamomile to make a tea which will help open the mind when meditating.”
“Linden flowers added to cocoa can ease a mind caught in loop of sadness. It’s important to remember depression isn’t a mere case of mourning. I’m sure you can attest to the difference. Gaia’s daughter would never have responded to such a simple tea.”
“I still don’t understand what I did exactly, to help her past the lump of pain. It was like a rock sitting on her soul,” Allana said.
“The best empathic healers can’t agree on how it works with a mind as injured as Gloria’s. I like your image of a rock blocking her. Breaking it up is the right way to think of it. Don’t worry yourself about the how, as each mind is unique and what you did for your grandmother is not going to work on the next one.”
Alanna stood and arched her back against tired muscles.
“I need to get out of here. The sun is shining, and I don’t think I’ll get lost if I head across the fields to the ruins.”
“A walk would be a good thing. Take your gathering tools. You should find yarrow blooming and perhaps a few raspberries. We need leaves to dry for tisane. It’s good for many things.”
“Always harvesting, aren’t you? I do it too.”
Alanna grabbed a basket, a trowel and pruning shears.
“I think I have everything I need. I’ll grab a bottle of water to take with me, and perhaps a couple of Aiden’s wonderful scones.”
“Fetch me when you come back, and I’ll show you my storage room and drying racks.”
Cardamon transferred the last of the powdered mint leaf he’d been grinding into a jar and placed it the third drawer of his apothecary’s chest. Having a youngster in the house, was lovely. He knew he was in his end years, and Gaia’s great granddaughter was a girl after his own heart.
Inquisitive and quick to make the connections between uses and alternatives, he knew she would surpass his own instinctive ability to combine spells and potions to heal. He rubbed his hands together as he watched her stride through the gate and into the field.
“Tomorrow we’ll start on the spells,” he said to no one in particular.