taken me all summer to gather the energy to write this
article, although bits and pieces of it were written in
my head over the summer. I'm writing about losses. The
past year has been one of personal loss for me.
First, we lost our dear old dog,
Jasmine in November. Many friends and inn guests mourned
with us. Grips, our best buddy, came with us to the vet's
office for her fatal shot. She was all eager and waggy as
the tumor hadn't yet sealed off her bladder. That almost
made it worse--her joyful enthusiasm to go see the
vet&emdash;but it was unconscionable to wait until she
was suffering just so we could be with her a little
longer. We brought her body home, trudged out through the
snow to bury her by the North peace pole at the Inn,
where some of our dear friend, Moksha's, ashes lie. Later
on, my grandson, Anders, and I decorated her grave with
clam shells, sticks, leaves and stones. It was healing
for both of us.
Then, my Mom died in March. She
really wanted to die, and my Dad had been waiting for her
for 25 years (!), so I thought it wouldn't be too
hard&emdash;but I was wrong. Our family is close and
she'd been the mainstay, so her death left a big void.
She was a constant bookworm, passionate feminist,
outspoken and judgmental critic--people loved her most
for her blunt honesty and willingness to speak
In her last days, as I watched her
die, I had the urge to climb into her crib-like bed and
just hold her. Something held me back&emdash;a shyness or
uncertainty over whether she would like it, or if it
would heighten her humiliation and embarrassment at being
weak. So, I resisted. Even the night she died, I wanted
to hold her, but I sensed that she just didn't want that
level of intimacy, which didn't come easy for
A few months after she died, in an
intense period of my grieving process, I dreamed that I
was there in the hospital bed with my Mom, holding her at
last. The bumpers and sides of the bed were up so it was
like being in a big adult-sized crib. It was so real. She
didn't say anything, but she looked into my eyes with the
most compassionate, loving, forgiving look on her face.
What a gift.
My 3rd loss came on June 11, when
the woods next to our property was destroyed to make a
road. These were the woods I'd walked for 22 years--many
times alone, many times with Bob, often with friends.
This is where I escaped for personal spiritual renewal
and connecting with Nature. The night before the
scheduled destruction, we invited friends out for a
ritual to honor all the species who lived there. We
formed a circle, shedding our tears, letting them fall
and mingle in a bowl of water and then released it, and
our sorrows, into the lake. We walked through the damp,
misty woods, saying good-bye to the trees as we adorned
them with black strips of material.
Listening to the chain saws and
bulldozers on that first day, I felt the meaning of the
word "heartbroken" on a whole new level. After 20 some
years of working to protect the environment, the
destruction had come to our own backyard. To try to let
go of my sadness, I would say to myself (and still do),
"Why should we be immune to the destruction of the
planet?" and, "Compared to people living next to a toxic
waste dump, or incinerator, or on top of a landfill, we
still have it pretty darn good." So, I am cherishing the
woods that remain and learning to carry this loss, as I
am the others.
What helped the most in dealing
with all three losses was the love of friends and family.
With Jasmine, it was all the comfort we received, and all
the others who grieved with us. It was Grips, dropping
everything to help us witness her end. It was Anders
helping to decorate her grave.
With my Mom, what got me through
was the outpouring of love and remembrances from her
friends and mine, through cards and in person at her two
memorial services. And, of course, sharing love and
memories with my sisters, brother and my
For the loss of the woods, comfort
came from the ritual on the eve of the destruction.
Standing in a circle with our friends, feeling the
collective strength from that little group helped me bear
So, I thought I was Queen of the
Losses, with three fresh ones under my belt. Until
September 11, that is. Now, we are witnessing losses on a
scale that is difficult to grasp. The sudden, violent and
horrifying death of thousands of innocent people and the
destruction of spectacular landmark buildings viewed over
and over again via TV by millions of people has spread
grief and sadness around the world. Those who lost loved
ones, of course, have suffered most. We are all grieving
with them. Giving whatever assistance we can to the
victims' families, as well as reaching out to help each
other carry our loads in our own communities during this
difficult time is essential to help us all heal. Being
there for a friend, or reaching out to someone we don't
know who is suffering deeply is what is needed, rather
than focusing on retribution and revenge.
Needless to say, this is a terrible
tragedy. It is also an opportunity for each of us to
examine our lives, to re-evaluate what is essential and
important in our existence, and to discern how each of us
can each help to transform this tragedy into a time of
coming together for a common cause--eliminating violence
and hate by spreading love and compassion.