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on the mind on the road

Pura Vida

The sunrises and sunsets are vivid, watercolor paintings come to life, each more breathtaking than the last. The brightness and hue and interplay between light and shadow so delicious, the inky blackness of night comes as a surprise. The days go from technicolor to noir in 45 short minutes, and then you’re left with just one naked bulb hanging from the ceiling.

I grew up in the woods but I wasn’t prepared for the all-encompassing darkness of the jungle. The canopy is so tightly woven together, starlight can’t penetrate; to see the moon and stars, I have to walk across the muddy dirt road that runs parallel to the sea, pick my way through rather treacherous palm roots, and step out onto the glittering black sand.

But that would mean I have to leave my mosquito net and, right now, two weeks into a several-month stint living on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, that is non-negotiable. A small white desk lamp is bolted to the side of the bed and its neck cranes around to point downward, giving me one solid yellow pool of light amidst the darkness. The double bed has room enough for me and all of my books so that, once the sun has set, I can spend the next few hours reading.

At the equator, the timing of the sunset doesn’t change at all throughout the year, and here it varies by about 45 minutes. It begins setting at around five in the evening while I’m living there, and in order to avoid the vast insect population that has made it quite clear that it’s their world, I’m just living in it, I tuck the mosquito net around the bed and read deep into the night. Those that are attracted to the light come over and hang out, covering the net in glistening black bodies and curving antennae.

I first read all the books that I brought, but then I have to fall back on the strange selection of books left behind by previous travelers. There’s a whole series of South African murder mysteries involving equestrians, a couple of political thrillers, and a collection of Stephen King short stories. They aren’t books that I would have ever chosen myself, yet I am transported from my small, glowing, jungle bed to Johannesburg, Washington DC, and Castle Rock, bouncing around the world and back all from the safety of my mosquito net.

In the morning, a rooster struts under my elevated house and promptly crows directly underneath my pillow (at least, that’s what it sounds like) as soon as the sun starts to climb out of the sea. He’s rather proud of himself and he doesn’t really care who knows it; the chickens follow him on his route around the little clearing, pecking and clucking and fluttering. In the light of the day, the jungle seems far less menacing, the insects almost friendly, and the warmth envelopes me. I make scrambled eggs on the tiny hot plate, do a round of laundry — this is always a must as my sink is so small, a load is really only two or three things — and hang them to dry. Then the sweeping begins. 

Overnight, the insects have left detritus throughout the little house, and if you let it build up for just one day, the jungle will overtake it. The collaboration and efficiency of these insects are astounding; you can toss a banana peel out the kitchen window and it will cease to exist within a couple of hours. Cleaning is the only way humans can assert their sense of dominance over the wildlife.

Obese bees fly in throughout the day carrying small bits of wood and moss, whatever they can find in order to rebuild their tubular hives that line the walls. I have to knock them down with a broom each morning, and they spend the entire day rebuilding, only for me to knock it down again the following day. We’ve come to somewhat of an agreement as they’re able to stay in the hive overnight, but come morning, it’s time for them to go. You can hear them coming from across the clearing, their robust bzzzzzzzzzz providing an insistent bass note in the jungle’s music. 

After breakfast and cleaning, I walk to the beach and run quickly over the graphite sand; it’s been baking in the sun since morning, rendering its surface into a makeshift griddle. Diving into the sea feels amazing, and even though it doesn’t actually happen, I imagine steam rising from my toes as my feet hit the cool waves.

Then it’s back to the house and to the hammock; the sway of it melds almost perfectly with the sound of the waves and, lying there, I’m floating. In and out of naps and reading and talking to my neighbor, Charlotte, out to walk her German Shepherd puppy Andy, and then it’s time for lunch — fruit and patties and a soda.

As the day moves on, slowly and aimlessly, I decide to head into town. I like walking along the beach to get there instead of on the dusty dirt road, and I listen to Massive Attack on my Walkman, Karmacoma writhing and guiding my pace. Birds coast by me and the wind is picking up, shaking the palms, cooling my cheeks. Some of the hot sand has gotten into my sandals and, for a moment, I consider walking on the road.

I arrive at the small bridge at the entrance to Puerto Viejo and make a left, walking along the water line. There’s a barge that’s stuck out in the middle of the tiny bay, and it’s been there so long that bushes and birds and grass have taken root. I need to get some groceries so I stop at the Chinaman — the store is technically called Manuel’s, but it’s run by a Chinese immigrant, so everyone just refers to it that way — and pick up a few items. With only a hot plate and humid weather, I don’t really cook much, but I do buy a lot of fruit. 

I continue around the edge of town, talking to a few street vendors hawking their wares — necklaces and postcards, Bob Marley everything — and then I cut back through the center of town, heading back up the beach. I have to time my visit just right because the sun is setting soon and I don’t want to be caught out in the jungle in the dark. I don’t know this place like that yet.

The sun is just a small shard hovering on the horizon as I step through the small patch of jungle and across the dusty dirt road and into the clearing where my house is. I put all of my fruit in the small bar refrigerator — otherwise, it won’t be there in the morning! — and I rinse off my feet. I change into my pajamas, reach for the lightbulb’s string, pull it quickly and then sprint across the room, jumping into my bed. I tuck the mosquito net securely around me, then reach through it and turn on the small desk lamp. As I open the night’s reading selection, the net reverberates around me, as something rather large falls on it. I look up and see the shadowy outline of a small scorpion above me, its legs scrambling in confusion as it attempts to gain purchase on the malleable surface of the mosquito net. I watch it as it finally gets its bearings, then scurries to the other side of the net, well outside of the puddle of light the small lamp provides. I panic slightly, but then take in a deep breath, settle into my pillow, and head to Castle Rock.

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on the mind

Highway 305, Revisited

The thing about growing up in a rural area is that, sometimes, your “hometown” is smack dab in the middle of getting from here to there. I went to elementary school and had all of my childhood friends in one small town, Suquamish; our mailing address and my county’s middle and high schools were in another small town, Poulsbo.

And, connecting the two, is a long, curving, rolling, two-lane blacktop lined with towering evergreen trees and rated at 55 m.p.h.

Until I traveled around other rural areas in the U.S., I didn’t appreciate how rare it is to have two small towns so close together — there are about six miles between them — that are essentially worlds apart. 

Suquamish is the heart of the Port Madison Indian Reservation and features the majority of the tribe’s infrastructure — it’s where Seattle’s namesake, Chief Sealth, is buried, where the tribal museum and community buildings are, and where most of the Tribe lives.

During my childhood, it was also largely undeveloped; while the Tribe had leased land to non-indigenous developers to build houses they sold to non-indigenous families such as mine, the majority of the land was heavily forested and wild. Brown bears still hunted the forests around where I grew up, and legends of their exploits were told around nervous summer campfires, every pop and crackle inspiring jumps and starts. 

The Tribe held annual festivals during which the rich scent of smoked salmon permeated the air for miles around; you could hear drumming and singing and dancing deep into the night. For years, the Tribe had operated a boom-and-bust fiscal cycle centered around the sales of fireworks for Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve; leading up to these holidays, the region felt like a warzone, with the continuous, heavy cracks and booms of barely legal fireworks vibrating from dusk until dawn and clouds of sulfurous smoke meandering through the trees. 

The streets of Suquamish were somewhat organized in a grid-like pattern leading to the sea, but most of its population lived deep within the forests where they had formed large compounds of cottages and mobile homes, collected together to house their extended family. When we moved there in the late 1970s, the only white people who lived in the two towns that comprised the reservation — Suquamish and Indianola — were essentially hippies who had moved to these somewhat remote environs in an attempt to get back to the land. Accordingly, my elementary school was primarily comprised of the kids from the Tribe plus a handful of white hippie kids who hustled hard to fit in. The Tribe had signed a treaty in 1855 that resulted in them giving up much of their land in the area, relegating them to the reservation’s borders and, more than a hundred years later, it wasn’t something that they were particularly happy about. They expressed their distrust of white folks on the regular.

Poulsbo, in contrast, was known as Little Norway; in fact, when King Harald of Norway visited the United States in 1995, he made a special visit to Poulsbo in recognition of its historical links to Scandinavia in general, and Norway in particular. It hams up its Norwegian roots with a downtown main street designed to look like what a bunch of Americans who have never been to Norway think a Norwegian small-town main street looks like — so, lots of white trim and pointed roofs. It used to have a small movie theater, curiously called The Alamo, which was so broke that, for several years before it closed, it simply played Snow White and the Seven Dwarves on repeat. 

Poulsbo is a tourist town — a trap, really — that fills up each summer with lookie-loos purchasing all manner of trinkets and trash. I spent hot summer afternoons and cold winter nights slinging fish and chips from a local chipper all throughout high school; during the summer, the line for the fish and chip restaurant went out the door and down the main street, easily a hundred people deep. The smell of grease and tartar sauce seemed to be baked into the concrete.

When the tides went out, the mudflats in Liberty Bay were a noxious blend of danger and excitement: You could lose your shoes trying to run across them, the stinking mud enveloping your foot and sucking your soles away. Under the tiny boardwalk was a treasure hunter’s paradise, provided that “treasure” meant old bottle caps, empty Bics, and pennies.

This small, scenic town is surrounded by farmland, populated by the descendants of the Scandinavian immigrants that arrived here in the late 1800s, making the area feel quaint and safe and provincial. Everybody is white, and everybody stays away from the reservation.

In the early 1980s, the Tribe built a convenience store and gas station along Highway 305, called The Longhouse, introducing a new outpost of civilization for us. All of the kids that populated the Laura Loop, Candy Loop, and Sandy Hook housing developments would make regular treks to spend our smatterings of small change on penny candy and sodas.

From my house, there were two ways to get to The Longhouse, both requiring some form of bravery: Through the woods, tiptoeing along the back fences of one of our neighbors in order to skirt their Evil Dobermann Pinschers, or along the highway, dodging all manner of motor vehicles careening down the road at a minimum of 60 m.p.h., only the faded white line separating us from certain death — not that we actually noticed it.

When it was rainy and musty, we often opted for Highway 305, the slick pavement proffering up the rich scents of gasoline and dirt and ozone, as there’s nothing quite as chilling as the feel of cool raindrops falling from treetops and down the back of your neck. On sunnier days, traipsing through the forest and dodging guard dogs seemed more appropriate; slices of sunshine carving shadows out between the trees and the patches of drying moss releasing a fragrantly lush, almost floral scent.

Regardless of the route, upon arrival at The Longhouse, we spent what seemed like hours selecting the tiny sugary gems our pennies could afford. Jolly Ranchers were my favorite, the sweet-and-sour green apple flavor inspiring mouthwatering treks back home. We’d select our treasures and then convene at the single picnic bench placed to the right of the gas pumps; as it was under a tree it, too, was covered in patches of verdant moss, lending an organic softness to the otherwise flat, hard bench. We’d trade candies, dares, and tall tales, until it was almost too dark to go home; eventually, we’d break ranks and trudge home along Highway 305 in our separate directions, the speeding headlights the only illumination along the way.

Aside from the tribal buildings, our elementary school, a church, and a row of businesses along the waterfront, Suquamish didn’t have much going on. As a result, Poulsbo was considered “town” to everyone; it is where the large grocery store was and it had a couple of restaurants. It is technically where Highway 305 terminates, becoming, instead, Highway 3 and continuing deep into the peninsula. As one of the main commercial corridors between Seattle and the western peninsulas, Highway 305 is populated by semis filled with everything from logs to petroleum, speeding down its musty two lanes in a mad dash for the next pitstop. It is a place of transit, and no one stops to think about whether or not where they are is where they should be; they’re coming from somewhere and need to get somewhere else, and Highway 305 is simply the conduit.

But not for us; for us, it is home. For us, we watch the headlights speeding by and ponder where they’re going, where they’ve been, and if we’ll ever meet them. Beneath muscular trees, we watch the world pass by.

There is a specific scent, an earthy dampness, that I associate with Highway 305; it is cloying and takes up residence deep in the back of my throat. The asphalt edges of the highway are muddied and coated with a thick blanket of pine needles and leaves that, when saturated by the rain, trap entire worlds beneath them. This scent, this pleasant, dirty, musty, minerality, is trapped, too, and wafts up only when it’s released by the gentle nosing of a shoe.

Categories
on the mind

Pricing Structures

I think it’s important for all of us to recognize, especially those who want to hold MLK up as the kinder, gentler revolutionary, that the civil rights movement that gained momentum in the 60s did not slow down because equality was achieved.

It slowed down because the majority of its leaders were either assassinated or incarcerated.

And I can only imagine that, as a result, a deep communal sense of grief and cynicism took root, requiring generations to overcome, rebuild, and rediscover a strength of voice. Thankfully, that’s what we’re experiencing today.

We need to remember that one of the key tools of the movement in the 60s was lawbreaking; some of those laws may seem archaic to us now, but those that broke them at the time were considered violent and to be feared. It was on the basis of this civil disobedience that the “law and order” platitudes were developed, and which have resulted in the current predicament that we are in — well, one of them, anyway — specifically, our militarized police forces and the significant criminalization of our community.

For too long, we have allowed the lives of certain people to function as collateral damage, yet when property or capitalist enterprises function as that same collateral damage, we draw the line. Am I pissed that several small businesses were collateral damage during the current protests? Sure. I’ve almost solely worked in small businesses, and so I understand the financial dynamic at work there.

But I am infinitely MORE pissed that Breonna Taylor is dead.

She was rendered as collateral damage, a gee-gosh mistake at the hands of a militarized police force. She cannot recover. She cannot rebuild. She cannot pivot and adapt and change to meet the needs of the community around her. She cannot ask for help.

Yet, for a nation with purported Christian underpinnings, we are disturbingly quick to allow the transgression of one of that religion’s most sacred tenets — thou shall not kill — as the simple cost of doing business.

Breonna is just one example of the millions of nonwhite people who have paid the ultimate price of our obsession with property, and there are no holidays for them. There is no reverence for those we have sacrificed in this way to maintain our standard of living.

The majority of them are lost to us, their names and thoughts and feelings and dreams and hopes and loves deleted from existence without record.

So it’s all the more important that we know and say the names of those that we sacrifice today. We must recognize that they have paid a severe price for us to live as we do.

And if we’re not okay with that, and I sincerely hope that we aren’t, then we need to begin the terrifying and painful work of transforming who we are as a community.

Categories
on the mind

OED

It was originally titled A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles; Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by The Philological Society when work first began on it in the late 1850s. Small volumes began to be published in the mid-1880s, beginning with the letters A & B, with a new volume released every few years. It was between volumes C and D & E that it began to be unofficially referred to as the Oxford English Dictionary, continuing until it was released in 1928 in a collected 10-volume format for the first time. But it wasn’t until 1933 that the name was changed officially on the 13-volume collection, and was printed on all of the supplements that were released over the subsequent years until the second, 20-volume edition was published in 1989. This is all according to Wikipedia because, growing up in my house, we simply referred to it as “The OED.”

In the mid-1980s, my mother went back to school part-time to get her college degree, eventually graduating with double bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish Literature in 1990. As a gift, my father gave her what is known as the Compact Edition of the OED, which was originally published in 1971 and updated several times as new supplements were released. It achieved its 2-volume status by shrinking down the type so that four of the original pages can fit on a single, wafer-thin page; accordingly, you need a magnifying glass in order to read it. The navy blue volumes are embossed with gold print, encased in a surrounding set box, also in navy, that features a drawer on top. Within the drawer is a tiny white box in which the magnifying glass is stored, adding another layer to the formality and importance of the volumes. 

Up until The OED appeared in our lives, I didn’t consider words to be particularly special. I was — and still am — a voracious reader, and built my vocabulary by looking up new words in an old Webster’s dictionary we had up until then. But when The OED arrived, everything changed. You see, not only did I learn the definition of a word, I learned its entire etymology, its linguistic history, its origin; I learned how complicated and somewhat heretical the English language is, how its complexities are what give it such richness, but also how it flows and moves and changes in relationship with those that use it. It wasn’t a static, finite thing; it was evolving, growing, and capable of great influence. It inspired me to become more creative with how I paired words together, to experiment with imagery and ideas, to conjure brand new words to fill in the gaps of my experience.

My younger brother, Mr. Tale, and I would pore over The OED with a hungry passion. The OED’s residency in our home began smack dab in the middle of what we now quite fondly refer to as The Years of Us: 1988 – 1994, when he and I were basically alone by ourselves in a great big house in the middle of the woods. Our older brothers were in their teens, had jobs and cars and girlfriends, and our parents were gone in Seattle from early in the morning until late at night, at school or work or both. Consequently, Mr. Tale and I spent hours upon hours by ourselves, playing games, torturing each other psychologically (as siblings do), watching reruns of old television on one of the few channels we got on the reservation, and — most importantly — reading. We come by our love of reading honestly as our mother is a prodigious reader: Her bookshelves ranged from Bradbury to Morrison to Cervantes to Shakespeare to Christie, and back again. When we tired of watching old episodes of M*A*S*H, it was to one of the ten bookcases around our house that we retreated, picking up a new book and diving in — armed, eventually, with The OED. It was our guidebook and roadmap, the magnifying glass giving it an air of secrecy, as if it contained a treasure map — and I suppose, ultimately, that it did.

After my parents divorced in the late 1990s, my mother moved the majority of her book collection into a storage unit, which she has had to maintain ever since as she has yet to again live in a house big enough to support all of her tomes. She had kept a small selection of her books with her over the years as she moved from apartment to apartment, but after leaving her second husband and moving into a room in someone else’s house, she had to pare down even more.

One afternoon, she showed up at my small townhouse with several potted plants, a container filled with rocks she had collected during her travels over the years, and The OED. 

“Here, you should keep this for awhile, I don’t have room for it.” She was harried and seemed overwhelmed as she pointed to The OED in the trunk of her 1997 white Honda Civic. I knew that she was emotionally dried up, the collapse of her second marriage taking a particularly costly toll on her. 

“Are you sure?” I didn’t want to give away my enthusiasm and excitement as I knew that, in giving it to me, she was parting with something that was quite meaningful to her.

“Yeah, yeah, I mean, do you want it?” Her voice was a bit weak and it almost seemed like she wanted me to say no, I didn’t want it, that she could keep it. 

“Of course! But, I mean, I’ll just be storing it for you until you have room for it again.”

“Yeah, okay.”

Ten years passed. When packing up my things to move from Seattle to Detroit two years ago, my now-husband griped, “What the hell is this thing?” as he picked up the massive, heavyweight set.

“Oh that? That’s just the entire English language. You know, no big deal,” I laughed, a bit snarkily.

“Ah, yeah, they didn’t teach us that where I come from,” he smiled.

We drove it across eight states and deposited it into a storage unit outside of Detroit because there wasn’t room for it in our small apartment. It stayed cooped up in there for nearly a year, coming out again when we moved into our house last summer. Given its tall size and weight, it lies on its back on the bottom shelf of one of my four bookcases, and I occasionally bring it out to show a word to my own children. When my mother visited for the first time after we’d moved, she noticed it there and proclaimed with glee, “The OED! You still have it!”

“Of course, mom! You know, I’m just storing it for you.”

“Well, I hope you’re using it, too. Books like that need to be used.”

After decades of poking out at the bottom of bookcases, The OED is now well-worn and shows the effects of also being well-loved. The once-austere lines of the case are now bent at the corners, the navy blue paper peeling in places, the ultra-thin pages wrinkled and sometimes stained. It seems to me now, though, to more accurately reflect the language it wishes to capture: Rough-hewn, borrowed, and capable of revealing great beauty.

Incidentally, work began on the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in 2000, shortly after it was made available online, and continues until this day; the expected date of completion is 2037. 

Categories
on the mind

Anne

There were two different programs offered at Brenneke School of Massage: A standard, 600-hour course that met the requirements of state licensing, and an extended 1300-hour course that delved more deeply into technique and science, as well as incorporating a weekly externship during the second half of the program. I selected the latter, primarily because I wanted to have a deeper understanding of the human body, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get some real-world experience as a massage therapist under my belt, either.

During the first half of the program, we spent our days exploring kinesiology, anatomy, physiology, and a wide array of different massage techniques, grounded in everything from Swedish to Shiatsu. We had to do 10 hours of practice massages each week, and while I excelled in the theory and understanding of the human body, translating that into my hands was a bit of a challenge. My instructors would tell me that I had potential, but that I was in my head too much, that I needed to figure out a way to ground myself in my body. 

The effects of my apparent groundlessness were showing up in my elbows, wrists, hands, and thumbs as I was far too reliant on arm pressure versus using my bodyweight to support my movements. When I was giving a massage, I couldn’t help but get caught up in visualizing the actual structures in question — the direction of the muscle fibers in the gastrocnemius, how to access pec minor, the best way to sink my fingers into the sternocleidomastoid. I would get so caught up, in fact, that I would sometimes forget that there was a person in the body beneath my fingertips, and my early practice reviews were often peppered with comments of too much or not enough pressure, of not being particularly effective in my work, of a feeling of exploratory aimlessness instead of a flowing, choreographed massage.

As we progressed through the year, we began working in the school clinic; my technique was improving in the classroom, but now that we were working with paying customers, I was incredibly nervous. Would I know how to treat their issue? Would I be able to stay focused throughout the massage? Every session was a study in anxiety, and I overcompensated by burying my nose in our pathology textbooks and learning every possible malady for which massage could be a remedy.

When it came time for our first externship, we were provided with a list of different locations and establishments with which the school had a partnership. There was a treatment center for women who were pregnant and struggling with addiction, a surgical wing of a local hospital, a community elder care center, a chiropractor’s office, and a hospice. We were asked to rank our top three choices and we’d learn our assignment the following week; after considering all of the options, I decided to choose the one that terrified me the most: Hospice. While the idea of working with the dying scared me, it seemed preferable to focus on overcoming this fear than addressing the challenge of fully inhabiting my own body.

On the first day of our externship, I learned that only one other member of our cohort (a rather sunny fellow from Sri Lanka) had chosen the hospice assignment; the rest of our compatriots were begrudging and irritated. Some had wanted the “easy” gig of massaging the elderly while they played bingo, while others wanted the “practical” experience of working in a medical setting. Except for our Sri Lankan friend, no one really wanted to be at the hospice at the beginning; we went through the training from the director, got our ID badges, and received our assignments.

“Kat, you’ve got Anne,” our advisor, Jeff, barked at me. “Cancer.” He handed me her file with a stern look and then turned to another student.

As I walked away, I reviewed Anne’s file, which had a large bright pink post-it on it that said simply “DAYS.” After passing colorless room after colorless room, each filled with a variety of beeping machines and the scent of disinfectant, I reached Anne’s. It was mid-way down the hall and, unlike many of the other rooms, her door was shut. I knocked softly and, when I didn’t hear anything, I opened the door slowly and peeked in.

Instantly, “DAYS” meant something to me: Anne was essentially a skeleton, with just days to live. She was lying on her side, the white sheet jutting awkwardly in places that should have been softer. She was heavily medicated, barely lucid, raising her head just a bit off the pillow as I stood at the end of her bed.

“Anne? I’m Kat, the massage therapist.”

“Good ………. back.” She whispered hoarsely, a deep, labored breath in between each word, waving her hand a bit toward the other side of the room. “Do my back.”

Those words had taken almost all of her energy and she sank back into the pillow. I pulled the sheet back to reveal thin, papery skin stretched over angular bones; where were the muscles? What could I massage? My head reeled as I ran through my knowledge of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology–whatever ology I could come up with that would tell me what to do. I was at a loss.

To give myself some time, I squirted the massage oil in my hands and rubbed them together quickly; I thought that, if anything, the warmth would feel good to her. I tentatively touched the small of her back, stroking her vertebra and hip bones. Slowly, slowly. I wasn’t sure I was really doing anything, though, until I heard a deep sigh come from Anne.

At that moment, I was in my hands for the very first time. Suddenly, everything clicked into place and I realized that all of the knowledge, the books, the flashcards, the studying — all the focus that I had put on learning the mechanics of the situation really meant nothing. They were an armor, a barrier, a crutch; an intellectual way of dehumanizing the very humans that I wanted to help heal. And so none of that really mattered — in the end, it was only me, my touch, my presence, my bearing witness to this person’s body. All that mattered was being there.

As I gently massaged her back, neck, and hips, Anne’s breathing turned from somewhat ragged to syncopated, and I felt this deeply intimate connection with her. It was just she and I in that moment, in that room, breathing together in the final days of her life. She didn’t care that I could release her iliopsoas or relax her traps, she just cared that my hands were warm and that I was there, nurturing her, comforting her. A sense of timelessness permeated the moment, it could have been five minutes or five hours, I didn’t notice.

And Anne did only have a few days left to live; she passed away a couple of days later. When I returned the following Friday, eager to see her again, I was given the bittersweet news: Bitter because I would never have the opportunity to share that space with Anne again, but sweet because, in the final moments of her life, Anne had changed mine.