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Posts Tagged ‘fate’

In the rapidly shifting landscape of my psyche in which the elements of the storm were buffeting my belief systems about, a new friend told me a tale upon which a mountain of resolve was born.

Ceili had appeared at FOR sometime in ’08 as a volunteer after a health issue forced her to retire from her career in tv & radio production. Despite being physically compromised, Ceili’s vibrant personality was operating full throttle and so she woke up the sleepy Peace House with her zeal for new projects. I was not involved with her endeavors but I was aware that she initiated a new FOR chapter and co-produced a major community outreach event. I admired the dynamo in my midst, but Ceili and I did not become fast friends. It wasn’t until my breast cancer diagnosis that we even started to talk.

Our conversations began with light-hearted ‘hey, what’s cookin?’ banter as we tended to bump into each other in the kitchen. Soon those exchanges evolved into heartfelt conversations about the healing virtues of garlic or debates about soy products until we eventually broached the subject of our health issues. Her response to learning about my breast cancer diagnosis was to leave a box of green tea and a stack of macrobiotic cookbooks on my desk which touched me so that I came to regard our chance meetings in the kitchen as big blessings in my day. I loved Ceili’s intensity. I loved the way she scanned me with her laser blue eyes and said, “Mm hmm. Mmm hmm,” in a ‘like, yeah, man, I truly dig’ authentic hippy way. And I loved to be taken into Ceili’s confidence about her arduous healing path, and to feel the sister connection as we both tried to mine our experiences for gems.

Then one day, sometime during those weeks in May ’09 while I was conflicted about my upcoming lymph node dissection, my new friend Ceili seemed to get chilly with me. She appeared to be in a hurry and moved about the kitchen as she prepared her lunch with her eyes on other things. I shrugged it off to a bad day or a project on her mind, and reverted to ‘what’s cooking?’ chat while I waited for my tea kettle to whistle. Her back was to me. She was rinsing dishes in the sink. I was gazing at her enormous halo of silver hair when, all at once, her shoulders lurched with an intake of breath and she blurted, loudly to be heard over the running water, “My best friend died of breast cancer.”

My knee jerk response was to think, ‘NOT MY STORY,’ and to throw up a force field. Then, seconds later, I said, “Oh, I’m so sorry,” and asked if the loss was recent to see if her grief was fresh; or, fingers crossed, to check if enough time had lapsed so that there had been significant medical advancements since.

Ceili turned off the water and faced me as she dried her hands with a dish towel. “It’s been about ten years, and I still miss her so much,” she said and then continued to fuss about the kitchen as she let the tale leak out.

Ceili’s best, most beloved twin soul, friend had determined to meditate her lump away. Her friend’s beliefs were so sacred to her that she warned her loved ones to keep their opposing opinions to themselves or she would cut them out of her life. Ceili chose to honor her friend’s choices. So, she witnessed her friend’s discipline to meditate long hours each day and her ardent pursuit of alternative healers all over the world, and saw the strength of her resolve to refuse surgery even though one of those healers told her that, “if it were my lump, I would get it out.” Ceili watched her remain steadfast to her beliefs as the tumor grew and grew, and, then, was by her friend’s side when the cancer made her so sick that she changed her mind and wanted it surgically removed, but it was too late.

“Trust your doctor, Linda. You told me before that you trust him, so trust him,” she said and walked off, leaving me to steep my green tea.

I stayed in the kitchen for awhile and stood at the window to stare at the river and contemplate these women. I thought about the immense bravery of the woman that stayed true to her alternative convictions, and the courage of Ceili to stay true to her friend. I thought about the power of this woman’s story to persuade. And I wondered why this story came to me to become a part of my story, why Ceili’s friend reached out to me from beyond the grave. I could’ve just as easily been told a story about a woman who meditates or laughs or dances her tumor away. There are stories like that and infinite possibilities. I’ve heard other stories. But why do certain stories like this one stick or resonate with me?

And I wondered and wondered while the river kept on flowing, flowing down to the sea.

In awe,

L.

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