Satchel of Stones

beach stonesI live between two worlds, one foot firmly planted in the present, the other on the shaky ground of living with stage four metastatic breast cancer.

I live most often in the present, choosing joy over despair, choosing love over fear, choosing life over the inevitable.

But when the ground shakes, it’s never minor.

I said good-bye from this world to two beloved friends in just as many weeks, both moms with young children, 7, 8, and 15-year old children. Gone from this world in the prime of their lives, Kelly and Tami will certainly live on in the hearts of their children and in those of us who loved them dearly, but it’s not enough. Memories are just not enough, no matter how we attempt to romanticize the loss to ease the pain.

The beautiful lives they lived are a source of great strength for me, as are their ultimate transition from this world to the next.

An interesting phenomenon occurs each time I say farewell from this world to the sisters in my circle of life, I become less anxious about my own farewell.

This is what it feels like for me – picture this: a satchel filled with stones, each stone and their combined weight representing the fear I carry around each day, I am never without it.

For me, each time a sister leaves this world for the next, I remove a stone and toss it back into the sea, allowing it, once again, to become one with the earth…my bag of fear now lighter, and I am less afraid of what is next for me.

Perhaps you think I would become more fearful, yet the opposite is true.

Yes, the sadness over the loss grips me hard, and the sorrow I feel knowing how much my own family and loved ones will miss me brings me to my knees.

But the fear dissipates, more and more, it dissipates.

For me, I believe it is heaven that will be the next stop in my own transition.

I am sitting outside on a chilly autumn morning, sipping tea in the sunshine, wrapped in an old blanket that belonged to my dad, who passed 23-years ago…I smell a mixture of leaves burning and the tide going out a few blocks away…this is heaven, too!




Mary Ann Wasil


By Mary Ann Wasil