Friday, November 16, 2007

Brenda Takes Her Leave

I didn't know Brenda that well. Something of an acquaintance, but one of whom I was fond. Brenda was very funny, and anyone who can bring laughter to my days is someone I am blessed to know.

I met Brenda two summers ago. My first camping trip since I was a child, I joined an AMC hike, and she was a frequent hiker. She loved the White Mountains of New Hampshire. A few years before I met her, she began hiking with a wonderful group of mindful nature admirers.

I was Brenda's foot massage partner. On that first hiking trip, we gathered around the camp-fire after a very, very long and grueling day of hiking, and partnered up to enjoy foot rubs. When I heard the sorrowful news yesterday, I thought of that night around the campfire, but just now recalled that she massaged my tired feet also. I also remembered that on that trip, she suggested we all hold hands and sing a song of thanks for friends around the dinner table. We did, and it was a moment of gratitude in my life I won't soon forget.

I admired Brenda's occupation. She was a hospice nurse. I can scarcely imagine a more difficult profession. On subsequent hikes, she sometimes told me, half-sadly and angrily, and half humorously, about her patients and their families.

I never imagined Brenda was sad or was having any severe difficulties emotionally. She was single and had no children, but surrounded herself with many different joy-filled communities of people, from the Unitarian Church to various groups at Rowe Conference Center, to an ecovillage initiative, to the AMC hiking group.

I wish I had known her better. Then maybe I would have seen her sorrow. Maybe I could have convinced her to seek help for her deep and intense pain.

I can only say now: Thank you, dear Brenda. Thank you for the moments of hilarity and light you brought to my life. I wish I had the chance to tell you now, and to hike with you again.

Brenda drove herself to the White Mountains earlier this week, and walked into the woods to end her life in a place which brought her peace. I truly hope it has. I shall miss you Brenda.