There are several references in this blog to my presentation of my grove project in Dr. Kay Fowler’s Death and Dying class. Here for example. Kay died one year ago today after fighting cancer for a year. While she was receiving treatment she kept a journal at Caringbridge.com to record the facts of her treatment everyone would want to know so that when she talked to someone she would be free to talk to them of other things. Kay being Kay she soon turned the journal into an opportunity to share her favorite poetry.
At least twice she had chemotherapy to prepare for a procedure using stem cells. The chemo knocked out every bug in her body as well as every defense she had against bugs. This writing comes, in part from her CaringBridge journal during her second unsuccessful attempt at harvesting stem cells four months before she died. In it she references ideas about the underground I commonly mentioned in my grove presentations:
Written Feb 8, 2012 11:32pm by Kay Fowler
by Robert Frost
Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.
The woods around it have it–it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.
And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less—
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.
They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars–on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.
Nobody can evoke the empty spaces within us better than Robert Frost
His is the gift of the familiar natural image. The whole medcal world pulls the oppositie difrection everything is unfamiliar and unnatural so to frost I turn as my counts go on their majical journey into the underworld like all the great heroes (Oh Kerry where art thou to explain this as eloquently as you do). My WBC hit 0.5 today but so far so fever,no infection, no mouth sores. Etc. WE are all watching and defending scrupuloulousluy and putting up huge hex signs – keep off the Kay – 3 or 4 more days down here on the bottom of the canyon and I shall begin to climb up and if I am really lucky some ass will give me a hand. ‘bout to do my magic mouthwash ritual again so will sign off just asking everyone to please clap loudly and say “I do believe in fairies”. I’m feeling just a bit dimmed at the moment. BTW for a complete different topic and feel if you are familiar with Jay-Z and Alicia Keyes’ New York State of Mind you must check out my favorite parody Granite State of Mind athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX7nQrCgALM It had me gasping for breath.
— Having been directly addressed, I responded: Written Feb 9, 2012 6:39am
I’m right here reading every post.
— Kay then wrote me an e-mail with this subject title —
A visit from a mentor in the grove Kay Fowler to you – Feb 9
Dearest Kerry: I am stunned and profoundly changed by your shout back to my cri de coeur in the middle of a very desohlate night last night when I was holding desperately to your notion of I must yravvel to the deep dark depths in order to get healing and wisdom to come back. And just when I felt most abandoned and alone in this 3am quest I wake up to the reassurance that the mentor has been in the grove luistening to me and waiting to me. What an incredible gift you have just given me _ the rest of the days down here at the bottom of my counts will be a little less awful because of you. Love you and hugs. Kay
— I wrote back —
That is wonderful to hear. That is exactly what I would have wished to offer you but would have never dared hope I could actually give. Such is the power, I guess, of conversations sustained over years: sincerely spoken in peaceful times they may resound in times of struggle. Your support and your continual invitation to develop my work in your class, as well as the dialogue we started with the allegory class, make the words I speak half yours.
— A few days later on Caring Bridge Kay again referenced the Grove image —
WHOOOSHHH! That is the sound of the collective breathholding that has been going on around the tri-state area and, in Montana, Minnesota, Alaska, Ireland and beyond. I have officially engrafted and am now sitting pretty with a White Blood Cell count of 1.20. A rebirthday indeed – Feb. 13, 2012 my rebirthday. There is little reason to revisit the days spent in the underworld except to say that I was never alone in my journeyings. Paul and Ellen and Scotty visited just before the descent and gave me extra doses of strength. Once I had begun my journey down, Bob and Sharon took nights in turn – trying to get any sleep they could amidst dozens of interruptions without the benefits of pain meds and other drowsers … Deanna came and just spent time quietly doing gentle touch and calming presence work. Geoff and I were phoning, texting, etc. throughout. Christine came and brought her vitality and joy into the room. It stayed around for days. My quilt with the luminous faces of the wonderful women of the Moon Sisters called out to me again and again to hold on for the flowers, the dancing, the swimming in the ocean, the gathering of the stones. The messages of love on email, and the Caring Bridge and the phone and the healing energies of the Moon Sisters and of the daily 7:30 EST healers all attached me with bands of light to the upperworld. I even found one of my dearest and most cherished mentors waiting for me by his grove which helped enormously on the finding my way back to the dawn and the light. Having made the climb out I hope I get to keep the wisdom I acquired during this period but if not – oh well – today is a new day!!! And I didn’t eat even a pomegranate seed – well I just COULDN’T eat anything – but either way… I do not have to return to the underworld for months at a time. Nor did I look back as I came out. I do my reading – I know the risks! But I have to tell you I think what worked was that they let me go to stop me from singing – not because they were moved by the beauty of my singing* I could be wrong but I just got that impression.
* Kay loved to sing but she was one of the few truly awful singers I have met.