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It’s been said that we do not truly die until the last person on Earth who remembers us is gone. -Unknown

On the long path of “adoption recovery,” I’ve learned a few things. One of the most important is this: memories have the power to hurt or to heal. At the loss of a friend who dies, I’m heartbroken and grief-stricken. These are demoralizing blows, painful and bitter. On the other hand, those who I’ve loved are in my heart. Even though they may be physically gone, the departed can still be part of our lives. They can even teach us, which is the focus of today’s posting.

Cindy reading about an old high school flame

Cindy reading about an old high school flame

My friend Cindy Bellinger died of cancer when she was barely sixty. A modern-day Renaissance woman, Cindy wrote, rode horses, taught, lived a fiercely independent life, and, a year before she died, fell in love with a wonderful man who became her soulmate. Recently, as I was cleaning my office, I came across a manuscript that I’d totally forgotten about. It was a draft of Cindy’s book Not a Rock Out of Place, and I recalled editing it for her and writing a recommendation. Before many people saw the final version, published by her company Blue Mesa Books, Cindy slipped away.

While living in Los Alamos, New Mexico in the early 1980s, Cindy walked a forest path near Burnt Mountain. For four years, she did this nearly every day. In her “Pre-Amble” she writes, “The path that traversed Burnt Mountain didn’t take me deep into the wilds, but it brought me into some extraordinary happenings… On Burnt Mountain–with its trees, birds, butterflies, and grass–moments sparkled with the simplest wisdom, or the darkest truth. I’d take a question beneath a ponderosa and learn how to find the answer. I’d sit on a rock and the anger that accompanied me would melt away.”

Another aspect of Cindy that I cherish was her generously supportive nature. Cindy helped me during the first decade of this century by participating in my “Dear Diary” staged readings, benefit performances which we produced as fund-raisers for Santa Fe Film Festival. We held “cringe readings,” sharing selected excerpts from our adolescent diaries: Cindy, as she read from old diaries, was a star. Even as a young girl, she wrote with style and exquisite wordsmithing.

Dear Diary Readings 2009

Dear Diary Readings 2009

I’ve adopted Cindy’s habit of walking the same path nearly every day. My route is not through a forest but up Sun Mountain. Thank you, Cindy, for inspiring me. And thank you as well for the reminding me not to wait to express appreciation. Tell the people in your life how much they mean to you. Do it today.

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