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I’ve not abandoned my project, nor my blog, or you, my readers. Since my return home from India there have been many things vying for my attention. Starting with the switching of gears from east to west. Re-entry can be a challenge after being out of country for such an extended period of time, but reorienting after this last and my previous journey was amazingly seamless, though my body lagged behind my mind in the process. I think it was the longing for roots, to sleep in my own bed, to be in the company of family and friends.

Sadly, I came home to see and converse with one of my dear friends a few last times before she slipped into a place where she could no longer speak. She was diagnosed with a gynecological cancer last summer. It took her life last week. I sat by her side, hand in mine, mostly during the last week of her life. Watching her, remembering times we shared, conversations we had, while processing her dying.

She was wildly vivacious, my friend. Her laugh – and she often found reason to laugh at things I said – filled the room with a rosy glow. The last few years she cried more than she laughed, her life challenges overwhelming to her. When I think back over the conversations we had during that time period, I recall her disappointments, her sadness, and her feelings of lack. She had stopped participating in her life, mostly, I think, because it became too much for her.

Sometime during the 80’s she had traveled around India for a year, studying music and Odissi dance. She returned to India briefly a few years ago to take a crash course in Ayurveda, but said that India was exhausting to her. She did however return with a lovely story.

She and a friend traveled to Amritsar together where they encountered a cycle rickshaw wallah who insisted on being their personal taxi while they were visiting the city. They initially resisted but his persistence won them over. They got to know him through their outings and learned that his cycle had been stolen a few months earlier. He told them how it had burdened he and his family since he now had to rent one and share his profits. Touched by his manner and story, they decided they wanted to gift him with his own cycle. He was beside himself with joy when they presented it to him, as were all the people who helped them along the way with finding the perfect one. I wish that I would have recorded her telling of the story; the details of it brought everyone she shared it with to tears. She was like that, giving and loving.

A few days after she left her body I think I saw her in the form of a deer that was glowing in the early morning light. Free, at peace, and illuminating.

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