October 2010

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Bhakti Boy

The other day, we went to Waimea Canyon, the immense and lush depression formed by erosion and the collapse of the original crater that formed Kauai millions of years ago.

Three fuchsia leis had been strewn along the lip of the canyon, an offering to the Gods. I wanted to feel a connection to the sacredness of the place, to be inwardly vast enough myself to soak it in.

Little J took off his flip-flops and told us to do the same. “Feel the lava sand, you guys,” he said, closing his eyes. “It’s still warm from the volcano.”  Smiling, Dennis and I took off our shoes, following J’s lead, we stood and tried to feel the energy in the lava sand.

Then the Little One lay down in the red dirt to make a “lava angel.”

He used the top of his head to make the angel’s face.

Then added lava rocks for the eyes. A perfect offering.

Before we left, Little J insisted we do a “family bow” at the edge of the canyon. He had us stand in a circle and touch palms in a kind of triple namaste. Then, following his lead, we all bowed our heads slowly.

My fourth trip to this canyon over the last decade or so. My first real experience of it.



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Little J and I were bright awake at 6 a.m. (still on Sugartown time, which means we actually slept-in two hours!). Letting Dennis have a few more well-deserved hours of rest, the Little one and I slipped out in our bare feet, and headed down to Brennecke’s Beach. We arrived just in time for sunrise.

Little J, in his too-tight goggles, his skinny, long limbs, and volcanic energy, charged into the waves like some kind of crazed fish who’d just seen the ocean after a long while of trying to live on land. His little fists pump the air with excitement, and his cries are born of something between delight and pent up frustration.

I fly in after him, flinging my hat, sunglasses and towel away from me.

Together we dive and splash and gasp and laugh. Every wave, though totally expected, knocks us down like some wild news that we were the last to hear. We’ve gotten good at this, as a family, I realized. We don’t try to take a wave until it’s right upon us, crashing down. Then we dig in our feet and brace. If it is too strong and drags us under, so be it.

In the space between the waves, we laugh hysterically, pointing at each other like new-found friends. Exhilarated.

This goes on for at least an hour, and I’m totally spent. It’s more energy than I’ve exerted in a long time. The only way I can get Little J to rest is to bury him in the sand up to his neck. This works for a short while since he’s laughing so hard, the sand is falling away faster than I can pile it. He can’t resist the urge to unearth himself and races back into the water.

I follow suit, but now we’re floating. Not bashing against the waves. The golden light of the early sun plays on the water, our skin. It flickers and mingles with what I can sense as healing energy that rises up from deeper water to just below the surface, where we’re suspended gravity-free, at last. It is somehow a perfect baptism by the alchemy of saltwater and surrender.

I think of Chris and Bob, Monica’s parents. Kind enough to share their Hawaiian home with us, they’ve made this retreat of renewal possible. Little J and I shout a loud, “Thank you!!” that we hope will fly across the two oceans that separate us and fill their hearts with the spirit of Mahalo Nui Loa during this difficult time they’re facing. We send them (and you) love and energy to crash through unexpected waves and to float when you can.



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Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest - John Lyes

Dennis’s friend from childhood, Ryan, is a special one. He speaks slowly, his heart shining through every word. His eyes twinkle even. He’s a writer and an encyclopedia of literature. And he once handed me a book of poetry that helped me through the worst of my journey.

Dennis and Ryan got to spend the entire day together on Sunday, digging out the front yard and replanting. Ryan is a landscape designer, and we were lucky enough to host his first installation right in front of our house.

The spot has been covered in hard, compact soil and rocks, and beneath that, a tarp. It’s no wonder that everything we’ve planted there has struggled to survive. We’d done our best to beautify the area, but the things we planted had nowhere to send their roots, no way to breathe in soil choked up for so long.

So Ryan and Dennis dug up a good portion of the area, pulling out the tarp, clearing the rocks, letting sun and air in for the first time in God knows how long. Then they filled it in with light, fluffy soil, first by setting piles, then spreading them out. You should have seen Ryan’s face brighten before the spreading began. “This is my favorite part,” he said again and again. As the energy surrounding the plot lightened and swirled, I could see why. He brought life and beauty to the doorstep of our daily lives, spreading the fresh dirt with his bare hands like a shaman pulling life energy from the ground.

The project is not complete yet, but believe me when I tell you that we can feel the difference their work has made. So much stagnant, pushed down weight has been lifted. Now roots can spread and life can go on, renewed and refreshed. Ahh.



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I was going to post today about my trip to the ER early Saturday morning, about how being in the ER is the only time that I actually wonder whether this fight is worth the agony and indignity it sometimes involves. I wondered about how shocked my faithful readers (you are all over the world now!)  would be  to hear that sometimes I want to give up. The ER can really make you feel that way.

Instead, I am happy to post about the fact that our family is DONE WITH CHEMO. You heard me right. WE ARE DONE!!!

I walked into the Dr.’s office this morning with my numbing cream on my IV port, and my yellow sticky note on my Elle Magazine, ready to regale Doc G with the usual battery of questions and results of my most recent research (thank you, Dan). When he sat down and said, “I think we’re at a point where stopping makes sense,” I didn’t even hear it. I responded with, “I really don’t want to do this anymore.”

He and Dennis looked at each other like I hadn’t understood. Because I hadn’t.

“I think we can be done now. Your CA-125 is great, and your bone marrow has taken a beating. Doing more would not make sense.”

My first thought was that, instead of spending six hours in chemo today I was going to read my Elle magazine, have a long bath, spend time with Dennis, and plan his 40th birthday party.

And then it hit me. I have my body back. My bones, my poor bones and their marrow can begin the healing process.

We all teared up, even Doc G.

It is all I can do not to run down the street and get Little J out of school and smother him with kisses. Boy is he gonna get some after school.

For now, I’m so happy to share this news with you all. Biggest hugs and thanks, and keep reading here for  lots of pictures and notes about the sweet life in Sugartown. Because we never really lost sight of that, did we?


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