This is a photograph taken by Vickie Brenner of Mt. Shasta entitled, "The Teacher", & I could not think of an image that more clearly describes the spiritual journey of our friend Tom. When things were looking really grim a week back, Mercy Hospital wanted to bring in a priest to counsel Tom, & when he refused, they found a monk for him ("it was the first thing that popped into my head," said Tom) who gave him great comfort in his state of grief. "No guilt, no blame" was his mantra, & passed on a set of yellow worry beads from China so Tom could keep his fingers moving in prayer--"I do one for Connie, one for me, & another for Connie," Tom told me with a creak in his voice.
If there was a right place for something like this to happen, it was absolutely fortuitous that this whole ordeal occured next to such a symbol of strength. The mountain has been a constant for Tom, from outside his hospital window, to his family's home ("The Cherry Tree Cafe" as he calls it), to the hospital cafeteria at Redding ("oh the view!") giving him an anchor of solace in the midst of chaos.
He is with Connie now, staying in the hospitality suite & spending days with her, talking & strumming his nephew's guitar (his own was shattered in the crash.) Her eyes are wide, & she is communicating from the nose up, holding steady, with her daughter Ann also at her side. Tom's voice is tired on the phone, his mind on both Connie's recovery, but also taxes, bills, the tasks at hand back home on the island. He has been writing with "narcoticized fingers", sending stories to be edited, to be shared, to be published to help us understand this experience of how he & his multiple selves are living in the present while recording the past. I hope to help set up some kind of a site for Tom, where you can read his works & get some first hand perspective. With almost 200 hits on Madeleine a day, I know for a fact that you care deeply about their lives, this story, & their future.
In the mean time, Tom has asked that if anyone on the island would like to help them out, there are projects at home that need attending as they will not be returing in the near future. There's wood down that needs to be cleared & chipped from the winter storms, their wood-fired hot tub ("which we will really need!" said Tom) that is broken-down, & other tasks that cannot be done by one person. If you would like to help out at Frog Hollow, please contact Storm, their friend & caretaker, at firstname.lastname@example.org. He surely could use a hand! And thank you to friends & neighbors who have been helping with the business of keeping things together--Tom said this has been like a truly amazing experience to know they are so loved. Be well!