Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Connection Among Mothers

When I first met up with a group of vandwellers in the Spring of 2010, I felt a connection with these fellow wanderers that was unexpected.  Our common loves -- of nature, experiencing new places, freedom of the road, and a simple lifestyle -- all contributed to my knowing that I had found my tribe, a group of like-minded people.

One connection was extra meaningful.  Katie and I had both lost a child, her "Princess" and my Elise. Together we talked, cried, and hugged.  I was comforted to connect with another mother who knew the pain.

Jasper kissing his Mama Elise (1978-2008).
(Photo from husband and dad, Cameron's blog, 2007)

After a few days, I was leaving the group to continue on my journey.  I said my good byes and started to drive off when Katie signaled me to wait.  She ran up to my car and gifted me with one of her precious knives, a mini skean dhu in a beautiful beaded necklace sheath in the Native American tradition.

Some of Katie's smaller knives.  In the upper right are her
mini skean dhu and necklace sheath.  (photo from Katie's blog 2/8/08)  

To be honest, I was so overwhelmed at the time, I can't remember what she said. But, I clearly remember the love I felt from her. I have carried that knife and sheath with me ever since, remembering Elise, Katie and her Princess, as I've traveled the open roads.

A few months back, I knew in my heart it was time to pass that gift to another mother, another vandweller, a dear friend.  Debra had lost Christopher.  I'd seen her pain and knew that she was to be next in the chain of mothers to wear the sheath and knife.

When Debra's travels unexpectedly took her within 6 hours of me earlier this month, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see her; and, the opportunity to pass along Katie's knife and necklace sheath.

So, deep in a pine forest, sitting in Debra's cozy van, with the pitter-patter of rain on the roof, I told Debra the story of Katie's gift.  Then, I gave it to her, most appropriately on Indigenous People's Day. We both cried, hugged, and cried some more. Then, I was honored to hear more of Christopher and Debra's story, a true love story that ends with unbelievable sacrifice and loss.

I am humbled to have been both the recipient and giver of this poignant symbol of love, loss and connection.  And I am so grateful to be bonded on either side with these amazingly strong women.