During Christmas break I took my retreat to a town that is close enough to be easily doable, but far enough away to feel like I’ve gotten away. It involves a drive, a Washington state ferry ride and another drive, to transport me to a place that I feel heals me.
There was the beach, desolate and solitary in the coldness of December. Sand wet from the misty rain, treasures of sea glass and shells and pebbles brought in by the tide. Herons, gulls and crows constitute the wild life that I see, my eyes scanning the water for any porpoise with purpose which on this trip I do not find. I watch a ferry in the distance coming in to the dock of the town.
I think happy thoughts, feeling well to be able to walk the beach to a lighthouse, remembering past trips, immersing myself in a fantastically interesting sky. God’s light streaming through the clouds, fat, white, shades of gray cotton balls that are scudding across the sky with the wind.
This is my getaway trip, my retreat where I sometimes go. I journey to this healing place sometimes alone, sometimes with family. There are no rules to any of it except one. I don’t think of cancer. I act like I will live until I’m 90. I go into town and shop. I buy myself something nice, never worrying or considering about whether I can use it enough before I die. There is even a bead shop there and this particular trip I pick up a strand of chocolate freshwater pearls that I will add to wire wrapped necklace I’ve already created with white pearls. The chocolate and the white will add more visual interest together then alone.
Eating good meals at the restaurants I enjoy brings to my mind how grateful I am to be so well at this time. I enjoy and savor each bite. One can really appreciate eating after having had meals through an IV drip!
After a night in my favorite hotel, I awaken to screams and indignant screeches of the seagulls. I know instantly where I am and it completes the auditory segment of the picture of a seaport town.
It’s important to have a healing place that you can go to. So much of this illness is emotional and mental in nature. We have Doctors who can address our physical discomforts and illness, but how many of us have someone or somewhere to go with the emotional turmoil that cancer creates? Find a place. Go there for a healthy distraction.
When I was first diagnosed, I'd visit this town and wonder if I’d be back the following year. Now, four and half years from diagnosis, I go to this place on the Olympic Peninsula and never worry if I will be back. I just plan on being back and so far that has worked just fine! Someday will be my last trip, but I don’t concern myself which trip that will be. I just revel how grateful I am to be able to come back here each time I need to. Create memories, see the natural world and leave my treatments and procedures for 48 or 72 hours.
My current photo is of Terry, my Norwich terrier, at our healing place. We’re at the beach where she can walk on sand and spy on the gulls that remain frustratingly out of her reach due to her leash! The first time I brought her she ran to the water, took one drink, tensed her face and never did that again! She was a rescue dog off the streets of Los Angeles and captive on death row in a kill shelter when the rescue group saved her. I can only assume Terry had never seen such a body of water, or even been on a beach before.
Now as the photo shows, Terry is sitting on the driftwood, reflective, calm, content, churning her doggie thoughts over and you come to figure that maybe even the dog needs a healing place where they can just “be” in the moment with all nature’s beauty at paw.
I fervently hope that all of you have a healing place, be it far or near, that you can get a much needed mental break from all your troubles. Renewed, refreshed and once again hopeful.