I have a vision of how it will be. I’ve seen it play a thousand times over in my mind; so real, as if I am there in the theater, popcorn absently mindedly moving from hand to mouth, mesmerized by the screen.
The opening scene will be of Sandra Bullock in a bed, food and dirty clothes strewn about; she is sobbing and ignoring the ring of the phone. In the messy tangle, she lays in the fetal position clearly not having showered for days; she rolls over and stares blankly at the ceiling as the phone still ring ring rings. The director poignantly and seamlessly conveys her thoughts to the audience; images of her motherless children crying for mommy, thoughts of death and all she will not live to see, thoughts of dying alone and broke. The hollow ache in her body that emerges as her thoughts wander to the absence of her own mother washes over the audience. Flashbacks of the recent proclamation of her cancer pummel her mind and the screen. She, the audience sees, is living in the catastrophic death spiral and darkness that is the three days that follow diagnosis, and we weep for her.
Fade to black.
The next scene opens with a hazy scorching sunset in the desert, the kind where you can see the wavy heat rising up from the dusty sand. The song, “No Where To Run To” begins to play faintly, almost as if we are imagining it, until the volume builds. Sandra, still in the dirty pjs, stands alone in the sand, sunlight on her face, her hand shielding her eyes as she gazes far out into the desert. “Is she waiting?” we wonder, “Is she thinking about walking into the desert to die?” We speculate. She watches until suddenly, out in the distance, about a mile apart from each other, tiny twin dust balls appear. They move toward her at a rapid yet equal pace, growing larger by the second, whirling dervishes converging toward her. She waits and watches, perhaps a bit perplexed as to what is causing the stir, but not frightened; her ability to feel fear exhausted in the last days.
As the dustballs close in on her, she sees that the stir is caused by two small cars, two little convertibles speeding rapidly toward her in a V formation that will most likely converge at her exact point if she does not move, yet, she does not.
Two goggled women, Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton are driving the cars, long long billowy scarves flying wildly behind them. Converging, converging toward Sandra they simultaneously on cue, hit the brakes and fishtail, coming to rest in front of Sandra. Meryl and Diane pull their goggles back and grin at her from their driver’s seat perches. The music stops, the dust begins to settle.
Sandra waits as they exit the tiny cars in tandem, dusting themselves off and after moments of silence they turn, and announce together, “We’re here.”
When I got sick, I was motherless, having lost her many years ago to cancer. What little was left of my family lived several states away, so I was pretty much alone in this old town, having just lost the lion’s share of friends and the circle I had created in the surprise! divorce. I felt unprotected, unsafe in a way. I had no where to run to baby, no where to hide. No where that I could weep and be vulnerable, and feel safe and protected from the attack of the intruding thoughts of death, from the pecks at my psyche of the loneliness of not having my mom during cancer.
But, I had the Miata Mavens.
Carolyn and Anne. Anne and Carolyn. My left and right hands in cancer. Both women wise, both women Grandmother Willows in their own right, both women my totems in recovery. Tough old birds who had weathered a lot I mean A LOT in their lives, and who were living proof that cancer doesn’t always prevail. Both women allowing me into the protected comfort found deep in their nests; a safe place to keep warm when the rain came down the hardest and the wind in my face was wicked.
Women who like wise owls, each spread a wing and encircled me in their healing.
The Miata Mavens.
Carolyn’s office is in this solid big old house where you drive into this crunchy gravel driveway to park. Her Miata in the lot is a sign, a harbinger of the good things to come, that she is inside waiting for you. The foyer of the big house is where you wait until she calls to you from the landing near the top of the stairs. Then, as you climb this long flight of stairs, hand sure on the solid old wood banister, you look up to see her as she smiles and leans over to watch you come to her. Your spirit ascends with your body as you make that climb, knowing at the top there is peace and balance again. Knowing at the top, you will fall into the deepest bowl of the nest and feel safe and warm in that perch, at least for now.
Three days after I got diagnosed, I went to see Carolyn. As I think back on it, I don’t remember driving to her office or really much about what transpired in the three days prior; just snippets of unending tears, telling the news of my cancer over and over, little sleep and a sense of paralysis. What I do remember about that day was that when I got to the top of the stairs, her arms wrapped around me and I fell into her and I sobbed. For three days I had held it in, worried more for the people and wee ones around me and their fear and reaction than mine; perhaps a tad in denial. For three days, no one had held me when I had softly cried through the night, alone in my bed. As I reached the safety of her perch, the wracking, heaving sobs came out.
She spread her wings and encircled me, pulling me into her, and it was only then that I realized how badly I was shaking. I was surprised and shocked at the tremble, for I had not known it was there. I could not feel it until I was pressed and supported against something solid and safe; like an object put on a dashboard, you don’t know the bounce, the amount of true shake in the car until the object dances off the surface with the vibration. It was as if her solidness gave me brace. It gave me gauge and measure of my fear.
She absorbed the tremble into her. I hadn’t known how afraid I was until that moment. The exhaustion that I felt, I realized was from days of shaking, deep into my body, my core and organs trembling for three days solid.
Carolyn (aka Grandmother Willow) had kept me sane through the divorce. But during cancer she kept me alive. Her nest was where I didn’t have to keep my game face on and could be raw. I could be unguarded, knowing she watched over me and protected me. She was the first to see me bald, the first to hear me say I was afraid I would die, the first to hear the darkest manifestations of the exhaustion of cancer, those wild and untamed thoughts where you want to die rather than go through another day of chemo. Sometimes thrice a week, I climbed up to her perch and fell into its downy like safety as I spilled all the oily nasty spew that is cancer. And with words as soothing as the soft warm coo of a dove, she healed me; she pulled the tremble from me. And when cancer swooped and dived and threatened attack of me weak in the nest, she chased it away.
Carolyn healed my mind.
“Anne has the gift,” Carolyn told me one day. “She does healing touch; I’ve already talked to her and she will see you,” she said as she scribbled a number on a scrap of paper. Now I will be honest here and say that at first I had my doubts about healing touch and what it was, but because I trusted Carolyn so, I knew this was big. It was like being let into their inner circle of healing; I felt like the young kid, the chosen one being indoctrinated to the private circle for sure, two massive and wise birds allowing me into their world…into their huge eagle like nests which had taken them a lifetime to build. The privilege never escaping me, even to this day.
Anne and I talked first on the phone. She gave me her address and said, “Come.”
So, on a bright shiny winter morning I followed the winding directions to her home. Off the main highway and into the woods, I drove deeper and deeper into this beautiful and somewhat magical place in the world. I came upon her home, (although I could not tell you now how to get there) and as I made my way down her snowy walk, two things happened; I found a four-leaf clover and as I stood up from picking it, I saw Anne’s Miata in the driveway.
Both harbingers of what was to come, the spirit of what was to find me in this place.
And so it began. In a series of weekly visits, she cleared and opened my chakras, laid her hands on me, and talked with me in the calm quiet of her home. The house, filled with big glass windows which revealed nothing but the trees surrounding, indeed felt like a nest, floating in the trees. This was how and where she chased the demon that is cancer out of my body.
She told me often that while she worked on me, a female spirit was present beside her. She asked me who the woman was. I knew immediately who it was, and told her; that revelation in itself served to exorcise some of the deep loneliness I felt. But what I most remember of my times with Anne are the two days that she healed me.
The first time was with my jaw pain. This pain was deep and constant, and it was also something that I obsessed about it even though The Big Guy assured me it was nothing but a pesky chemo side effect. I didn’t tell Anne about the pain. Perhaps by then, I knew she would know it without my words.
And she did.
As I lay on her table and she worked around me, she came over my jaw and her usual fluid motion stopped. Soundlessly she moved her hands over and over my jaw and suddenly, appeared to grab something in her hands. She left the room and went out onto the deck; I lifted my head from the table to see her out there, flicking her fingers toward the sky as if getting something sticky and unsavory off of her hands, pushing it away, Saying, “Go, go on now.”
As I drove home that day, the pain was gone. It never returned.
The second day I remember is the day she pulled cancer out of me.
She asked if she could lay hands on my tumor, the stubborn tumor which was refusing to shrink as it should have with those first blasts of chemo. Her layered and cupped hands baked on my breast for a very very long and quiet and peaceful time. The sensation is one I have never experienced before in my life, electric, that of something being pulled from my body, being sucked out…heat and intensity and static. A pull. That was the day cancer left the nest. For good. The day the tumor began, as was noted in my medical records, to respond and soften drastically, and melt away.
Daffodils had come into bloom during our time together, and I brought her handfuls, not knowing how to thank someone who pulled cancer out of you.
Anne healed my body.
Methinks the Holy Spirit works through people for sure.
Through all those months of treatment, so wounded by all that cancer did to my body and mind and spirit, and how it crippled my sense of sureness of my ability to fly, the Miata Mavens guarded me. In tandem, they watched over me like two wise owls spreading their wings around me, encircling me as I lay deep in the nest, healing. Strong birds feeding me, keeping the malevolent intruders out of the nest; protecting me by shooing them away until I could fledge, until I could fly.
When my hair grew thick, like the downy first flight feathers of a chicklet, the day came when I was able to stand on the edge of the nest and feel strong and sure. And I flew away.
And with that, the Mavens turned, got into their Miata’s and sped away toward the horizon. Scarves flying in the wind behind them as they flew into the sunset back to their nests, ready to fledge yet another soul.
Sandra, on her tiptoes in the sand, waves wildly and blows kisses shouting, “Goodbye! Goodbye!” as the Miata Mavens fly away.
“You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky.” ~Amelia Earhart