Trinity strung the last cord on the trellis above the balcony rails and climbed carefully off the small chair she was balancing on. Soon white and purple morning glories would be greeting her each dawn. She chuckled to herself about how either of her children would have reacted if they had seen her this way. She would have been heartily admonished. But, despite all the years of struggling with her health, she was still strong with excellent equilibrium. And she still liked to be a bit reckless.
She went inside her two story cabin on the side of the mountain in the canyon and sat down beside the kiva fireplace, where a small fire was warming the place gently. It was early Spring and still quite brisk in northern New Mexico. The ceiling was made of vigas (sanded and varnished smooth round logs) and latillas (smaller versions of the same), which complimented the unplastered walls quite beautifully. Southwestern art and Navajo rugs filled the floors and walls with rich, vibrant colors and intricate patterns.
Her daughter Elizabeth was coming to visit later that day, soon she would prepare green chile enchiladas for their evening meal. Elizabeth was flying in from Las Vegas, where she lived with her husband Alex and baby girl Vanessa. Alex was taking care of the baby for a week so she could have a visit alone with her mother, and to help save their marriage.
Trinity thought of her husband Ricardo, who had always rubbed her shoulders for her and her eyes misted over. He would have been 70 if he had been able to conquer the cancer. But he had given it the best fight he could. Together they had sought every natural cure to be found. They had tried it all, and combined that with the chemotherapy and the radiation treatments, because they didn’t want to overlook anything.
Trinity wondered if he would have lived if they had not taken the doctor’s advice. For when they had first arrived at Laguna Seca shamanic hospital in the Amazon, he had seemed so much better they thought perhaps he was going to be cured. That he would live and they would go home and live the rest of their lives together as they had always planned.
She remembered the morning he awoke with that smile on his face, that smile that told her without words that he was no longer in pain. Her heart had leaped when she saw that smile, for she had seen her beloved go through so much suffering during his ordeal. So many personal moments of agony that he had shared only with her. Because he was proud and a private person. He never complained to anyone else, and had rarely complained to her.
But he would sometimes weep when the pain got really bad, as she held him close with his tears streaming down his cheeks, soaking her blouse as they clung together and prayed for his healing. Never in all the thirty years of their marriage had he cried in front of her before. To her, those tears were a gift from Heaven. She would have saved each and every teardrop if she had been able to. And now she would use them as an elixir to sweeten the roughest of days as she grieved.
She had her children to live for now, she couldn’t simply collapse in bed and pray for Death to visit her. She had to be strong. She needed to see her granddaughter Vanessa grow up, a beautiful baby girl with black hair and big green eyes. And Elizabeth needed her more than her son Ryan did, who was traveling around the world again, this time staying in Tibet for three months studying yoga with a world renowned teacher.
Trinity thought of the words of one of her favorite spiritual teachers, Adyashanti, “Enlightenment is a destructive process.” There had been many times over the years when she thought she had grasped this concept, but now she knew deep down in her bones it was true. Nothing could ever have prepared her for the deepness of the grief she still felt because of losing Ricardo. His absence was everywhere – the empty side of the bed, the empty chair, the empty seat in the car.
After his pain had disappeared that day in the jungle, they had spent three wonderful pain-free days together, laughing often as they walked with the shamanic doctors through the jungle, as they gathered with their small group in the thatched huts and as he and two other patients drank the ayahuasca.
The next morning he was amazed by everything on a deeper level, his eyes bright as he repeatedly remarked about the interconnectedness of all living things. That evening they had made love in the hammock, he seemed so strong that it seemed that together they would live forever. They were young again for those three days.
But the next morning he didn’t open his eyes. He wasn’t cold yet, his arms still around her. She had tried to wake him up, shaking him gently, but after a few seconds she knew in her gut it to be true. With deep, heaving sobs she ran down the path to doctor Rodriguez’ hut, pulling herself together as best as she could upon arriving.
Everyone in their group of fifteen did their best to comfort her, for they had all loved Ricardo. His warm smile had made him a favorite among the group. His optimism had inspired them, each going through their own difficult health challenges. They had all hugged Trinity tightly as together they held a small ceremony for him before Trinity flew back to the states, having him cremated first and carrying with her his ashes in a gourd Dr. Rodriguez had crafted.
Elizabeth and Ryan had both flown in to help her throw his cremains off the Rio Grande Gorge bridge. They held the memorial by the old swimming hole in the river just as he had always wanted. Lots of flowers everywhere, about a hundred people came to share their respects.
Her family and friends had visited her often the first few weeks, but then she was left alone with her feelings, feelings so intense her prayers seemed sometimes empty. Some days she wept for hours, but somehow she managed to make it through. And sometimes she felt his presence when she listened to one of their favorite songs, “Peace Train” by Cat Stevens. But it was always fleeting, over much too soon.
Trinity took one last sip of her chamomile tea and decided to take a little nap before resuming her dinner preparations. She held Ricardo’s rosary in her hands, curled up on their four poster bed, and softly chanted herself to sleep.