I could smell it; the scent of the first drops of rain against my brain registering that there was a storm stirring in my soul. It’s been said that in life you are always doing one of three things: entering a storm, exiting one or trying to hold on in the midst of one. Except for an occasional shower or two, the sun was radiating brightly in my life. But I knew the rain was coming. Felt it swirling around me. Didn't know the direction it was coming. I couldn’t anticipate the extent of the downpour. I just knew that I was going to need something to get me through.
It started as soon as the school year ended. A trip to the emergency room turned into a hospital stay for my elderly mother. She had pneumonia. She stayed a few days, followed up with her primary care physician and things were on the mend. Then I had to leave and go out of state to be with my niece who was having surgery. I have been in and out of hospitals so many times that I almost hate them. I said goodbye to both my father and my oldest sister in the hospital. But in spite of my fear, I ignored the knots in my stomach and push forward. My mother was fine; my niece would be, too.
Her surgery went well, so I thought I’d a reprieve from the rain until I returned from vacation. Wrong! My friend and traveling partner was complaining constantly of pain and malaise. And for someone who doesn’t like going to doctor until she falls over—sometimes literally--was actually doing what she was supposed to, but she wasn’t feeling any better. She felt so bad that she decided not to take the trip. I knew then that she felt bad because she would never miss a trip! Then my mother started feeling bad again. It was raining on my head. I wanted to stay home.
I am not my mother’s only child, and I could not do anything for my friend. I felt helpless, but I had to relinquish my false sense of control. I had to accept that I am a mere mortal and to let go and let God take control. So, I decided to take my trip because I knew it would be still raining when I returned. The storm was brewing, but I had a temporary shelter.
The trip was to Toronto for a literary treat with the Literary Sisters. The Literary Sisters, started by Ruth Bridges, is a group of women from all over the country who gather in different places to discuss literature and anything else on their minds. Sometimes they gather in a place to talk to authors about their works, and other times they’re traveling around the world. This was my third trip.
And for me, it was a much needed retreat. I sat in the company of brilliant and beautiful Black women from all over the country and from all walks of life with a shared passion for literature; it was and/ is a gratifying experience. I am a reader, and every time I’m in the company of the Literary Sisters I learn how much reading I still have left to do! Being with them is like sitting in the front row of the classroom of life.
There’s no cattiness. No competition. It is a gathering of warm and wonderful women. We talked about books, current events, our lives. We experienced the beauty of Niagara Falls and the hustle and bustle of Toronto. Due to bad weather, only one author was able to fly in for the retreat. But in this day of Kindles and Nooks, it was good to listen to the New York Times best-selling author Kimberla Lawson Roby to not only read from her book, Perfect Marriage, but to also autograph keepsake copies of her other books.
For an extended weekend, I found peace in the midst of the storms swirling around in my life. I shared meals, conversations, and knowledge with a wonderful group of women who cocooned me from the pellets being hurled at my heart.
I returned home refreshed, renewed and ready to do battle with the health care system that is denying my mother the right to quality health care, and to support my friend who was diagnosed with cancer. I maybe be standing in the eye of the storm, but thanks to my Literary Sisters, I am also able to find a sliver a peace in this place. Thank you!