I haven't written here since the beginning of the year. I have a good, dear long time friend, who has been my business partner, teacher, sister and more, who is dying of cancer right now. My life has been thrown to the winds, as I have tried, along with other close friends, to be there, respond to crisis after crisis and all the needs that arise as someone moves towards the end of their life.
I have been overwhelmed with grief, sick of heart, and also in a state of sacred grace and awe at this process of letting go, and caregiving in different ways. Facilitating a helping hands website to provide information on her needs and journey, has engulfed my life and time.
Patricia and I met in the masters program at Sonoma State University in 1985, in a co-counseling class. We became co-counselors during the semester, and deep friends over time. When I first met her, I told her point blank, now don't get any ideas about becoming friends, I am overwhelmed and have to many friends in my life, so I don't want or need any friends. That first statement, became a story we laughed over many times. During our time in the Creative Art Therapies program, we were always stunned, by how parallel our art was. I would be working on a piece and not see her for a month or so, and we would realize that we were both be working on a similar image, theme or visual statement.
We became co-partners in the Creative Arts Studio, and for almost 20 years we had a community expressive arts studio, here in Santa Rosa, at 3 different locations. In 1992, right after my mother died, Patricia treated me to a weekend Mandala Retreat at the Angela Center in Santa Rosa, with the late Judith Cornell. That was the beginning of our both taking every class we could from her, training and then teaching her work and becoming facilitators of Judith's Illuminated Mandala Process.
Our lives have been very intertwined.
I had not planned on writing this story here, I rarely disclose my deep personal experiences here, but this feels right. So I have shared one of Patricia's mandala's done in response to Mary Oliver's poetry.
(She turned me on to Mary Oliver as well, what a gift)
So this is an honoring of Patricia, her art, her gifts and her loving generosity.
Patricia setting up at a Mandala workshop that we taught at the Cosmic Cowgirl Studio in Healdsburg.
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?