Nobody can really guarantee the future. The best we can do is size up the chances, calculate the risks involved, estimate our ability to deal with them and make our plans with confidence.
- Henry Ford II
It was last August, and I knew that bad news was on its way. Since Alan had been wanting a trip along the Oregon coast, we thought this would be a good time. It was before the bad news was delivered, so we could play without having heard it yet.
We escaped the heat of Portland, stayed in the "Steinbeck Room" at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, where every room is dedicated to an author and decorated accordingly. Our room had shelves of botany samples in jars a la "Cannery Row" and a mural of the truck from "Grapes of Wrath" with the headlights doubling as reading lights for the bed.
I skim-read "East of Eden" for the racy parts, bought salt-water taffy (did you know they make a chipotle flavor?) then we spent the next night in a Bed and Breakfast in Florence recommended by one of Alan's oncology nurses.
But my vivid memory is of what happened at Waldport. This was the day of their modest Farmer's Market, and among the usual vendors of fruit, soap, earrings, and cookies, was an empty booth sporting primitive wooden heads and a sign "Palm Readings $5."
I was intrigued, so we waited for the reader to return. Her name was "Steel," a tan, strong woman with intense blue eyes. She told me that her readings were a combination of what she saw in the hand and intuition. She looked at my hand with a magnifying glass as she told the meanings of the lines in my palm, and the lines I was apparently missing. She said, "Something happened about five years ago that changed the direction of your life permanently."
She took a lot of time with me. When she was done, she asked if her reading felt accurate, and I told her "My husband has cancer, and things aren't going well."
She asked Alan if she could read his palm for free--as a gift.
Alan said "Yes," with a little coaxing, and she talked to him about his spiritual journey, and embracing what comes to him rather than chasing after growth.
From the time we left Steel and the market until we returned home, most of our conversations were about what she had said. We pulled the car over to a viewpoint at the ocean and talked about some of the things that had gotten too scary to talk about... Memorial services, wills, computer passwords, financial skills (or lack of them), advance directives.
We each felt our 'readings' had been made by an insightful woman who had given us a prism for looking at what we both knew, but hadn't been able to talk about until now.
When we returned to Portland for Alan's appointment, Dr. M told us that the SPEP, the bad numbers, had gone up. I had known this would happen because treatment had been postponed much of the previous month, in order to give Alan's blood counts a chance to recover. Alan was weak and couldn't walk without his cane and my arm. Everything but the Dex had been stopped.
Dr. M is also a person who guides using a combination of what he sees and intuition of how best to share it. I noticed that the last thing Dr. M said at a clinic appointment was usually a quiet hint about something he expected to become worse. At one point, I mentioned to him that I'd noticed this, and he started making the 'quiet warnings' the second-to-the-last thing he said to us. His is a gentle way of sharing difficult information and it worked well for us.
I hope each of you is fortunate in the guides who are looking at your future.
(The photo is of Zoltar, in front of an Ice Cream Parlor in Florence, Oregon)