Treetops (for Linda Swirczek)

Treetops   (for Linda Swirczek)    —by Jinny Batterson

(Those who mother us are not always our biological mothers. The first version of this meditation was written nearly a generation ago in memory of a fellow consultant whose physical death had come much too early. Though Consultants’ Camp has since relocated and though I haven’t been as acutely aware of Linda since the treetops episode, I’m persuaded that her spirit persists, ready to provide wise counsel again when most needed. Happy Mother’s Day to all the women and men who’ve mothered us, whether or not they have biological children.)

For the first few years, she attended our
Struggling annual conference,
Bubbly, nearly always kind, smoothing
Our rough edges.

Then the politician husband whose children
She had raised to adulthood divorced her.
First came depression. Later, a brain tumor
Proved resistant to treatment.

She rallied long enough to share one
Last festive meal and decadent dessert
At the log cabin restaurant in
The Rockies resort town where
Consultants’ Camp was then meeting.

The mountain climber who’d fallen
Deeply in love with post-divorce Linda
Took charge of her physical ashes.
The following summer, he scattered them
On a favorite peak.

Several years passed. After a health scare
Of my own, I was shaky and unsure.
I traveled. I took a short hike
Among California trees, then
Stopped for a rest, seemingly alone.

Dust motes sparkled in light filtered
Through redwoods that had been seedlings
A hundred human generations
Before my friend and I were born.

From somewhere near the tops
Of the trees, Linda’s lilting cadences
Drifted down: “Don’t panic,” she told me,
“Remember who you are.”

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