When you drop your ice cream cone, you can ask your mom to share hers with you. Yours was a twist, but hers is vanilla, and even though it’s not your favorite, it’s sweeter now, more satisfying. While you’re still prickling with longing for the melting lump on the pavement, you’re okay. When you’ve used up your favorite watercolor brick – Prussian Blue – the color of the northern sky as it darkens, the sea when it’s deep, but not too deep, and the boat in your dreams, you can try to remake it with other colors. A different blue, a purple-r blue emerges, might you like that too? When your first boyfriend stops calling, you can put a dinosaur band-aid on your heart, tending to your pain, something tangible to touch, say, yes, this happened, but also, you will heal. When you move, when you miss all of your friends, when you even mourn your post office attendants, the trees you no longer see, you can begin again with new routines. Find a coffee shop where they always smile, find someone to go to a laughing meditation with, laugh it away until you’re crying, ha ha ha, ho ho ho, hee hee hee, and when you wipe the tears away, you feel a little better. When you get married, and your father isn’t there, you almost wish you had asked him to walk you down the aisle, but you thought it was too paternalistic, you asked him to read a poem instead, but now that he isn’t there, you wish you had given him that request. You can put one foot in front of another, and you can smile, you try not to cry, you look at all the people you love, you try not to cry. When your first pregnancy does not result in your first baby, you can hold a pillow at night. Imagine all the things that would have followed. When loved ones die, you can think of the good times, you think of their hard times. You wonder if they’re floating in the ether, if they’re meeting angels, if they’re mingling with grandparents, past pets. When you lose your job, you can make lists, reassess your strengths, try to reinvent yourself. In your doubt and your struggle, you try to find hope. When you lose your way, you can try to follow the breadcrumbs back to the beginning, and start again, with an ice cream cone.

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Melissa Saggerer has been a bellhop, a museum curator, and a library director. You can find her flash in Leopardskin & Limes. On twitter @MelissaSaggerer.