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  • Carol Pullen

Three Sisters Crossing a Creek

We’ve each been following our own paths, sharing news about them occasionally when we contact one another. But today we’ve gotten together and are on the same path. Meeting in Sedona, Arizona and on a trail determined by red rock, time-sculpted mountains towering around us. Ancient mountains and we are 79, 62 and 60 years old, so in very respectful awe.

We cross through the creek ten times today, each carrying the skills, limitations and burdens of our individual paths. I, at 79, have been sister/mother to my much younger sisters. I love these women.

My balance and endurance are very conscious concerns. Terri, 62, a psychoanalyst, 18 year valiant warrior in battle with Stage 4 Breast cancer and developer of great delight in living, is in pain and struggling to be here. Linda, 60, also a therapist, is very familiar with Sedona’s trails and confident in her enjoyment as an experienced hiker, but concerned about ours. We are all mothers and have been or are wives. We are all women of faith, with variations in their details. There is healing for each of us surrounded by such beauty.

The creek - maybe 40 feet wide, has a bottom of red soil, crossings of haphazard rocks, very cold water. Daunting to me and to Terri. Normally entirely enjoyable to Linda. Hesitation, fear, uncertainty, and a strong desire to go on are in Terri’s and my approach. Care, coaching, help, strategizing are in Linda’s. The play of planning a route over this “ominous” creek’ - “I’ll start here, then go to that rock, next and next”- is fun but scary.

Linda goes first, showing us the route she’s chosen and comes back to watch over us. I begin, slip and fall. Not hurt, not unexpected, a bit wet with a skinned knee, but relieved to see that it’s not such a scary thing and to reach for Linda’s steady hands to get up and continue. erri wants to come. Her balance is very uncertain and she can’t use her hands to steady herself by reaching for stable rocks or Linda’s hands without great pain. Her hands are bandaged and covered with gloves. Leaning on Linda she slowly crosses over.

There is jubilation at all three of us crossing the creek! You would think we had scaled Mt. Everest; it felt like such a victory and accomplishment. We did this with nine more crossings, each a relief and a milestone, gaining a bit more confidence as we went.

We finished our hike and were back in the car three hours later, cold and with wet feet, (and for me wet pants as well), exhausted and happy together.

I don’t know if there will ever be another actual creek crossing again given my age, Terri’s condition, or anyone’s length of life really. I’m sure there will be the crossing of many “symbolic creeks” to come. If they could be as lovingly and satisfyingly accomplished it would be a grand blessing.

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