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January 10, 2009

IN THE SONG OF THE DOVE

In Memoriam
MIDGE O'BRIEN
1935-2009

When I first saw Midge, she was sitting on my back porch, waiting for an appointment with my husband back then, who was a holistic healer. I thought that she was a young girl. She was so perfect and petite, with such a lively, coltish energy, that from a distance, she looked like a teenager. She never lost that quality, even when she was in great pain and difficulty.

She was there because she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer and she wanted to know what she could do that didn’t involve butchering or irradiating her body. They’d given her a year or two to live, but she was determined to find a better way. She believed that she could change the way her body dealt with what she called, “her irreverent cells”, and she did. The day I first saw her on the porch was over twelve years ago. She’d beaten the odds by an entire decade!

Over the years, Midge and I got to be good friends. She often helped me in my garden and while doing that honest work, we talked a lot about philosophy and poetry and the strange ways of this world. She also shared a lot about her childhood. Midge had been born the youngest of four children in Barren, Wisconsin. She went to a one-room schoolhouse and lived on a farm where she spent a lot of her time climbing trees. One story she told me seems so symbolic of the way Midge saw the world. She said:

“On the farm, I often heard the sound of something, but I didn’t know what it was. I never saw anything making the noise. I thought it was God calling. It wasn’t until I was an adult when I heard the sound again that I found out that it was a Mourning Dove.”

Midge was deeply insightful in the way she thought and spoke. Quick with a soft smile and a hard-hitting witticism, she had that wry kind of humor that revealed a piercing intelligence. She loved a good laugh, but you couldn’t get away with any blarney around Midge. She simply would not tolerate injustice of any kind and worked tirelessly to make the world a better place, especially for those who were downtrodden.

She fought the good fight. I think she was uncommonly brave in choosing to live her life on her own terms. Not many of us would take the road she did. It took great strength to follow convictions that the medical world decried, and even greater strength not to give in to the well-meaning around her who would have found it easier for them for her to take the easy way out. No, that was just not Midge. She had what they used to call ‘pluck’ – and lots of it!

Above all, Midge was curious about the world and what made us all tick. She was a natural scientist of both body and soul. She reminded us on a daily basis that so much depends on the quality of what we feed ourselves not just physically, but spiritually. And because of it, we are all the better for it – inspired, better educated and perhaps more sensitive to the fact that our bodies are not only a marvelous manifestation of chemistry, but of energy and intention, too.

I loved my friend dearly and I am sad to see her go, but I know in my heart that her purpose here was served. She told me so. And that’s all any of us can ask for, isn’t it -- to love and be loved and to share the light that is within us for as long as it burns bright.

Midge did all that. And so much more. We’ll all miss her irreverence and bright blue eyes, but most of all her child-like spirit, the one that could hear God calling her in the song of a dove.

Namaste,

Karen Mireau
Berkeley, CA
January 10, 2009

1 comment:

Marylinn Kelly said...

These have been days of loss for too many of the people I care about and each continues to search for solace in whatever form is indicated. To have heard God's voice in the sound of the mourning dove is, possibly, as near as any of us needs to come to be clear about our connection with the eternal and the divine. Thank you for telling Midge's story.