If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
—Henry David Thoreau
Last night, I dreamed of being on the ferry from Mukilteo to Whidbey Island in Washington. It was crowded with people, what I imagine it might feel like to travel in steerage, and the weight of all the passengers made the ferry ride so low that it almost seemed as if we would take on water and perhaps start to sink. But we made it to shore and disembarked and the crowds dispersed and there were plants and trees and sand and a quiet road to walk to wherever it is we were trying to go.
A dear friend died last evening. This has been coming for a while as she chose not to be treated any longer for the cancer which had spread to her brain. She embraced—there is no other word for it—the experience of leaving this world with joy and curiosity. Thanks to a loving and hard-working circle of family and friends, she was able to stay at home, and die at home in peace, in a bed that we gave her (along with my infamous pink Ithaca couch!) a number of years back when she first moved into her apartment. Even though I wasn’t able to be there in person, I’d like to think I was there, holding her metaphoric hand, having a final conversation or ladies lunch, and, of course, wishing her godspeed and well.
She was far from afraid as she crossed over on the ferry to whatever is next. Welcoming the whole journey, really. Not concerned about the waves, the wind, the tides, the choppy water, what she might find on the other shore. I have so much to learn from her example. I suppose we all do.
Photo of just another day in paradise. Sunrise viewed from the deck of our condo, in Princeville, Kaua’i, May 2005.