Our group of bereaved mothers first met together in the fall of 2002 at an all-day workshop at Salem College (that cold, cold room you may have read about by now). We met for a second half-day workshop at Winston-Salem Hospice in the spring of 2003. With hope but a lot of trepidation, we planned an overnight retreat in a mountain cabin owned by the daughter and son-in-law of Dottye, one of our writers, in the fall of 2003. (Read more about this in Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers, “Breath of Sol,” page 95.)
When ten of us arrived at the house off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, we saw a sign. Not just an ordinary sign but the Breath of Sol sign. The name given the house, Breath of Sol, was inspiring enough, but the sun on the sign had fourteen rays. The thirteen of us had lost fourteen children. It was a sign. I could go on and on about how breath became a symbol for life force and hope and survival and sol having not only to do with healing sunlight but solace and souls. Enough, though. You can see the connections. We can feel them.
After the book launch party on August 10, Dottye’s daughter, son-in-law and family gave her a gift: the sign. “For the Solomonson Family – Karin, Chad, Emily, and Boden, this sign has been a part of their home environment for over a decade (and since Boden is only 11, most of his life!). They have all loved the sign and decided as a family to give it to us.
“So it was not just a matter of getting rid of something they didn’t need anymore, rather it was a gift from their hearts in honor of the Breath of Sol sisters. They feel very honored to have had a small part in naming us and felt the sign really belonged to us now.
“When Walt and I were getting ready to leave the restaurant on Friday night where we had gathered for our family celebration, Karin said I should open my trunk and I looked up and Emily and Boden were carrying the sign towards us — both with big smiles on their faces. Chad was standing proudly with Karin and I could tell it was a special passing-along of love and hope and all that our sisterhood stands for,” Dottye wrote. So our deep thanks to the Solomonson family, not only for lending us their cabin but now also for the gift of the sign.
We decided that in somewhat the same fashion as the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, we will now be a sisterhood of the traveling sign. It will accompany us to retreats (maybe it will be a little heavy in the luggage to France?) and live in our gardens in between. Kathy is taking the first turn. It will “live” in her Japanese garden, created in memory of Ryan. We will post stories about the sign on this page. Check back often.