There are pieces of my life that flow gently from day to day like a sleepy Southern river. One lesson I have learned along this adventure is that the little bumps and bubbles mean ancient stones lie beneath the surface – stones intent on correcting my course.
Last month, I received a message from a friend in the herbal field. She had been struggling with cancer for years. She is a strong woman and so full of life that even as the iron bars of pain from the cancer clamped across her belly could not suppress her.
Barbara wanted to donate some of her herbal supplies to the free clinic, Occupy Medical, that I work for. She wanted to see to it that her work moved into the hands of some one who would allow the herbs to heal as Barbara intended. She could not bear the thought of her energy, which she spent years pouring into beautiful little bottles, sit any longer on a shelf or worse, hide in a box.
At the clinic, we serve those who consider our services to be the end of the line. They have been chewed up by the system. A good portion of our patients are unhoused. Some came that way because of medical conditions that they could no longer pay for. Some came that way because of mental illness that they could not afford to control. Some came that way because they had the courage to run, at a painfully early age, from a life of abuse that our system chose to ignore.
The irony here was that Barbara was also at the end of the line. The cancer was crushing her from the inside. Barbara’s soul had so many years of practice in flexing her wings, that she knew the flight of the soul was possible in many ways. Her life, her work, and the medicine she made was destined to save the lives of our people.
We sat down and talked for hours. Most of the time, I listened. I listened as closely as possible. Although I have read Barbara’s writings, I know that even a talented writer keeps a piece, sometimes accidentally, for herself. Her love for the herbs and the life she was leaving poured into my hands as I sat on the floor absorbing her story.
Barbara told me that she wanted a legacy. I felt a bump in the river. This was the message of an ancestral stone in the river of my life. Our fates were intertwined. Barbara’s work, my work and that of the clinic were bound together toward a greater destiny. Neither of us knew what that destiny was.
The pieces of my life continue down the river. I do not know where they lead but I know that as long as I keep paying attention to those stones, I will float free instead of swirling in an eddy. It is love that keeping those pieces moving – love, work and memory that keeps a legacy alive.
Thank you, Barbara. Fly free, my friend. Your love lives on.