As suspected, it is hard to be here today. Actually, that is not quite true. It is hard to re-enter my usual life, to awaken to an alarm clock, head out for the gym, feed the dog and cope with rush hour traffic. I long for the rhythm and peace of the past few days, and am somewhat consoled by suspecting that fourteen other women are feeling the same way this morning.
We did talk yesterday about how to bring some of our retreat home with us. To my surprise, I found that I could do a little of that. When I walked the dog, I noticed the crunch of the semi-ice underfoot and noted the bird sounds and the smells. When I made dinner last night, it was pleasurable to stand and stir the rissoto, found an almost meditative peace in the repetitive action.
I have received lovely emails from a number of the women who were there, and was even more pleased to receive a note from Eva, now living in Alaska, who would have liked to be there. She is a gifted writer, a thoughtful and wise and generous woman. She sent me also a link to a beautiful related essay that she published in Orion, and gave me permission to share it.
I am finding it better this morning to use her words to continue the experience. Tomorrow, I will be back with a more typical entry. Here is the start and then a link. Please take a few minutes to read this; it is truly wonderful.
In nature, death is not defeat
BY EVA SAULITIS
OR TWENTY-SIX SEPTEMBERS I’ve hiked up streams littered with corpses of dying humpbacked salmon. It is nothing new, nothing surprising, not the stench, not the gore, not the thrashing of black humpies plowing past their dead brethren to spawn and die. It is familiar; still, it is terrible and wild. Winged and furred predators gather at the mouths of streams to pounce, pluck, tear, rip, and plunder the living, dying hordes. This September, it is just as terrible and wild as ever, but I gather in the scene with different eyes, the eyes of someone whose own demise is no longer an abstraction, the eyes of someone who has experienced the tears, rips, and plunder of cancer treatment. In spring, I learned my breast cancer had come back, had metastasized to the pleura of my right lung. Metastatic breast cancer is incurable. Through its prism I now see this world.