It’s a gem with the metaphysical essences of truth, stability, and perception. No other stone could best represent the past year for me. 

I discovered aragonite at one of those huge gem shows at a humongous-but-still-somehow-not-large-enough fairground building on the outskirts of a westside Portland suburb. I’d never heard of the red-hued stone, but my sight was instantly engaged. It looked like a bigger and slightly darker version of a himalayan salt cluster, its “iron flowers” reaching out to me, beseeching me to warm them in my palm. So I did. I asked the vendor what properties it held. The longer version of what I wrote above is this: Aragonite inspires integrity, stability, balance, and the belief in one’s own self. Aragonite holds grounding power, meaning that it helps you to find your footing so you are able to dig into your roots and become an unshakeable force. 


Unsurprisingly, as it often happens when we open our eyes and look for it, it was the kind of strength I needed at that moment. I was feeling lost, paddling desperately between the impending passing of my oldest friend to cancer and trying to find the strength to break things off with a partner who deserved someone who loved him more than I could. 

One could say that we never expect cancer, but when it happens to someone young or virile or exceptionally healthy in appearance, it hurts that much more. Mandy was all three of those things, and it was no match for breast cancer and, ultimately, Leptomeningeal Disease.

But to only speak of her end disrespects everything that she was to me. Her ridiculous antics and fearless, loud mouth was always an inspiration to me—albeit sometimes also embarrassing. She had the energy of a five-year-old, even several years into her diagnosis when we took a mid-Covid trip to Alaska, because the risk of Covid outweighed the chance that she might not survive the pandemic. 

The feeling of being across the continent from her, not knowing when she would pass was awful. I knew her husband was going through it the worst, sitting by her side every day, but it also felt a little unfair that for me to see her meant that I had to choreograph a big production with a flight, a hotel, and the unfamiliar dance between subway stops. But I did it, because the truth was that she was going downhill quickly, and there were few subway stops left for us. 


During this same time period, I had begun wrestling with emotions around my partner. He was everything I had ever wanted on paper. He had a good job, was wonderfully stable, hilarious, adoring, passionate, kept his word, and was a great travel buddy. But something was missing. I found myself frequently annoyed at “little” things. I told myself alignment in these areas was not mandatory for a successful relationship, and tried not to frame them as dealbreakers, instead focusing on the consistency of the relationship. 

We participated in relationship check-ins quite frequently, and though I brought these things up as concerns, he brushed them off breezily, confident that we were building a beautiful empire together. After 9 months, I realized something: It wasn’t him. He was giving me 100% of himself, but despite it being the most stable relationship I’d ever had, I refused to give him back 100%. I couldn’t love him the way he deserved to be loved. And that wasn’t fair. Yes, he could hold me while I cried for Mandy. He could be my cheerleader when I finished a chapter of the book I was writing. He could take me out to nice dinners and fly me first class to San Francisco. But he deserved someone who could give him back as much as he was giving me. 


No one can understand what goes on in your brain except for you. Your mother, your twin, your best friend cannot intercept the thousands of synapses that are firing off inside of you. Most of the time they can make an assumption on how to react, based on every interaction you’ve ever had, combined with the theory of relativity, but that doesn’t mean they can possibly know how you feel, what you think, and how it changes you. This year brought me to my knees in terms of emotional bandwidth and self-reflection. I think most people probably perceived my outward reactions to the obvious: the many levels of grief I was experiencing. 

And yet, looking at that aragonite on the countertop in front of me, I can see that it has many places where it has broken off or been stunted, and it’s still so incredibly stunning. And I look at the death of my friend and demise of my relationship, and I can feel many things outside of sadness. I feel grateful that Mandy’s body is free from pain. I feel hopeful that I will find a new relationship that is perfectly imperfect. I feel confident that one day I will know myself fully, and that the next day I will find out something new and delightful. 

Once again I dig into my roots, searching for the groundedness that always seems so close. I’ll hold my aragonite in my palm while I feel the grainy edges warm to my touch. I know I have that power within me. 

4 responses to “Aragonite”

  1. Sara Avatar

    Thank you for sharing how you found strength in this challenging time. I completely agree that sometimes signs come to you when you need them most. I’m so glad you found aragonite and were reminded of your own strength.

    1. beckydancer Avatar

      May we continually search for and find these signs! Thank you for reading 🥰

  2. Kerani Arpaia Avatar
    Kerani Arpaia

    Beautiful, I love how this stone found you. Also “iron flowers” is such a lovely visual, I feel like it perfectly mirrors the hard and softness behind your reflections here.

    1. beckydancer Avatar

      What an incredible observation about the hardness and softness! I love that. Thank you, Kerani.

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