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Lions Roar : November 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN NoveMBer 2009 31 “notHing is taken moRe FoR gRanted,” my stepfather told me one night after dinner, as bits of salad wilted on his plate and cancer crept through the marrow of him. “when you’re healthy, you don’t give it a second thought. you just spend all your time getting worked up about all kinds of other things,” he laughed, a quick smile cracking the stiffness of his face. no, it wasn’t a smile exactly, though his teeth were there. He stared at his plate, at the bits of green food he hoped would restore him, and he whispered, “everything else you can do without, but if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.” a few weeks later, my mother and i found him curled up on the carpet, his face smooth and blue with cold blood. when we pulled him up, he exhaled. or so we thought. it was his last breath, trapped until our stirring released it, a sigh that was the last of him escaping. that night i dreamed my stepfather had a ceramic face that smiled until it fell away in shards, until all that was left was a radiant joy—something between a light and a song. tHis moRning, yeaRs lateR, i can feel that light-song flowing into me as i breathe, and i take a moment to honor my stepfather’s words and the casual miracle of my health. i don’t give a second thought to the soft power in my belly and the life in my bones; i give it my first. From there, i move to my pillow, a down-puff extravagance, a gift Snow salutations Yoga practitioner aliSon WeaRing discovers how to appreciate the moment, even in the great white north. from last Christmas. such bountiful softness, how lucky my head and neck are to be cradled there. i continue on to my feet, warm from the previous night’s hot water bottle, the same one i used as a child, when school nerves would turn my stomach to snakes and i was calmed by the weight of its warmth. my toes reach for the last traces of heat and i take delight in this small sensation before turning my attention to the bed that has housed my resting body yet again. i pat it—thanks, bed—then crawl my fingers across the weaving of mexican wool against my body, especially delicious this morning, when the ther- mometer reads twenty below outside and a brittle forty-two degrees indoors. the fire must have twisted itself to ashes during the night, while i glowed between wool, water, feathers, and dreams. i could complain. until recently, i awoke to bougainvillea and birdsong, the reli- ability of hot sunlight lifting over the neighboring mountains. For five glorious years, mexico cooed me out of bed with the promise of papaya and mango, freshly roasted coffee from a friend’s garden, creamy ripe avocadoes, and cheese. there was the rustle of fringe-leaved banana trees and the seduction of flowers in every imaginable color—fuchsia, magenta, vermilion, azure. it was a culture more prone to dance than depression. Recently we returned to rural ontario, to the snow and the cold and a shy, reluctant sun. Here there are bare trees and a new color, gray—varieties of it everywhere. there’s silence—the illustRationbykimRosen