When I first moved to Vegas, I met and became instant family with Chef J.B. He is the cousin of Kelly, one of my poker players from back home. Three or four days after I arrived in Vegas, he put me to work doing catering with him. All summer long last year, we catered events all over Las Vegas, out in the hot sun, sometimes for 10 hours in a day, five or six days a week. I don't know if I'm just out of practice catering since I've only worked a few parties over the last several months, or if it's something else, but yesterday was the worst catering day I've ever had.
It was hot, I was in the full sun for the better part of 5 hours, and I had virtually no help in my funnel cake/corndog booth. When you have a crowd of 1000 people, all wanting a funnel cake - and you can only cook 8 of them at a time, things can get kinda sticky. By the end of the day, I was burnt to a crisp from the sun and fryer, mildly heat-stroked, and just plain over it. Needless to say, when I got home, I was ready for a shower and a long, long sleep. But for some reason, I decided to take a bath.
The tub in my bathroom is the size of a small semi-truck. I have only once before taken a bath here because it seems a wasteful expense of water, and takes a long time to fill. But I wanted to soak the grease off my body, out of my pores, and sand the blisters off my feet. Every muscle in my back and neck and legs and arms was screaming for a good, hot soak and a bubbly reprieve. And oh, it felt good. If only I'd had a glass of wine and a good book, I'd have been in that tub still.
But I did get out, wrapped my hair and body in towels, and let out a whopper of a sigh. As I turned to shut the shower curtain, right there in the middle of the tub, still floating in the draining water, was a heart, a perfect heart in the suds. I couldn't take my eyes off it. It never wavered, never changed shape, never melded with the other bubbles nearby. It stood alone, about 10 inches across, and filled me with comfort. I watched it until all the water had drained. It slipped, tail-first, into the drain, but stopped short at the fat part of the heart, and waited for it's bubbles to burst. Too big of a heart to fit down the drain.
I thought of Stacie, and if this was her way of telling me that everything would be okay. That a shitty day could end with a big fat soapy heart. That I'll manage with only 2 days of work per week. That my pumpkin bread business will reach the stars. That I'll find someone to love me soon. That it will all work out somehow.
There were hearts everywhere after Stacie passed away. In the fireworks on the 4th of July, in the clouds, in sun shadows, in pictures, everywhere. After 7 years, there are still hearts, in the most unexpected places, at the most needed times.