I went to art camp last week. Its a long story to explain art camp and if you ask me I will try to tell you about it, but what I want to tell you about is safe people.
One of the ladies at camp has had a heart transplant. I told her my son had been a donor when she told me of her transplant. I don’t remember her reaction to my news. Had it been helpful I probably would have remembered. Now she has lung cancer. I am so sorry she has lung cancer – stage IV. It is not going to end well. I know she is very frightened. She decided to give a testimonial one morning at breakfast – the first morning we were there. She wanted to credit God with all her past healing and something broke inside me. I could not sit there and listen. I got up and left the dining hall. A good friend followed me out. She is a safe person.
This friend has plenty of health problems of her own – both she and her husband who is newly diagnosed with bone cancer. Yet she came and sat with me, allowed me talk, allowed me to cry. I recounted the time in the hospital, signing papers to allow our son to be a donor. Our son was on life support in his room ; we were in a small windowless room signing papers while in a state of shock. It is a hard memory. We have heard from only a few of the recipients that benefited from his gifts. I know they all will die one day too. It would have been nice to hear from more.
The painting I posted here I had done the first evening I arrived. My friend loved it and suggested we write a story about it. She suggested some prompts for the story. I wrote it later that evening. She now owns the painting and the story but I don’t think she will mind me sharing it here, for what it is worth. I wish for healing for all.
The intentions had been good. She was sure of that. But for some reason rather than being able to focus on the good , she felt an old throbbing from a pain she thought had been softened. Sorrow intruded at unexpected moments. Sorrow took away the keys and drove away with her joy.
“I’m going to take a walk, ” she announced, donning her jacket, her hiking boots. “I’ve got my phone,” she called after herself.
The path so familiar wound out before her. She made little sound, the trail a cushion of leaves and needles. The air was cool, fresh from a rain. A breeze like a sigh brushed her hair back as softly as a mother’s hand. The thought made tears sting at the corners of her eyes. Trying to resist made them hurt more.
Her friend was right, no one wants to try and imagine her grief. The mind in survival mode runs in horror. She really did not think it the worst pain possible. It was simply one form of pain and since it was linked inextricably with a person she loved she had worked hard to accept its presence.
Yet somehow, coupled with a few other stressors something had tipped. So she had decided she would walk it off.
She had been so deep in her thoughts that she had the sudden dizzying moment when she, looking up, realized she was further in than she had intended to walk. The trail now unfamiliar though the stream still rambled by her side. She slowed and focused on the trail. “Focus” she thought. It really was a matter of focus. What did she really want to pay attention to in this moment.
The breeze gained strength pushing her from behind urging her forward. She felt for her phone. Two bars shown from the screen. Just a little farther.
The trail curved to the right, the air warmed like a breath exhaled and the scene opened before her. The stream relaxed against its banks unhurried, flashing in the rising sun that slanted through the trees. It felt warm on her face. A sycamore reached towards her gnarled fingers of branches raised to heaven, reached to earth. The bark on the tree peeling away leaving pale flesh forming a dappled pattern abstracting in a camouflage of grays and greens.
“A tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season”, she thought. A Psalm reciting itself in her weary brain.
She watched as the sun crept up the tree’s flanks and felt the anger and frustration bake away. There were things she might have said earlier. Things she would try to explain gently if asked but it was time to head back, to retrace her steps.
It was time to take the hand of sorrow and walk with it.