Chronicle of a Stem Cell Transplant (and on through to the other side)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pint of Brew

Hello. It's good to be back.

The photo above is of a little evergreen I call Pint. He grows on the edge of Brew Creek where I was on retreat last week. You can see him from the south window of what is known to some as...the "crying room."

When I went on my first Callanish retreat two years ago, I remember his fledgling limbs, weighted down with the heavy snow. Like a leaf pressed between the pages of a book, he had been flattened against a backdrop of icy cold. He seemed so fragile. I recall walking into the room one day on that first retreat and saying "That tree appears to be saying Oh shit."

That is exactly how I felt at the time, twelve weeks post transplant - shell-shocked and wondering where the hell I was. Diagnosis. Chemo. Transplant. Radiation. Ten months after it had all begun, I think it's safe to say I was suffering from a little post-traumatic stress, and this little tree seemed to say it all. I, too, was knee-deep in the shit.

Returning to Brew Creek last week, I was amazed to see that he was still there - still surrounded by ice and snow, but standing taller. I could see where he had grown. A few years ago, where he'd only had a few skeletal branches, new life had sprung. Dozens of tiny sprigs filled in the space that, previously, had been empty.

I also noticed the stand of birch trees beside him, gracefully coaxing him toward the light, yet firmly rooted in the dark, rich soil beneath the heavy blanket of snow.

It makes me smile to think of Pint, belly full of Brew. He's still standing and so am I.