With the New Year, as always, there is a need to refresh and reboot.  A few weeks ago at the first meeting of 2018, the Healing Circles Core Team was discussing refreshing the HCH website – a quick way to do this is to change out some of the photos.  Oddly I had just looked at the website to search for a particular photo – a very special photo to me.  It was one that has been on the site since it was launched – a little out of focus and not of great quality as it was quickly snapped with my phone. I was immediately concerned that this photo was one that was being considered to be changed out.

The reason I had zoned in on this fuzzy photo (below) that was taken in mid-2016 is that it is of the Advanced Cancer Healing Circle – launched in February 2016.  When I took the photo there were eight of us that made up the Circle that day.  At the time it wasn’t on my mind that it was probably the last time this group would be gathered together.  Already the Circle was growing smaller, and since that day, four (plus one missing) in the photo are no longer physically with us.

On January 2, 2018, Larry passed away – the fifth loss of a group who strongly held the rim of the Advanced Cancer Healing Circle for nearly 10 months.  Our first loss was Brooke (not in the photo as she had just passed away when this photo was taken), a beautiful, brilliant and spirited 34 year-old who made us all fall in love with her.  In fall of 2016, we suffered back-to-back losses, Bill first and then Karen, two founding Core Team members who brought strength and wisdom that I will forever cherish.  In late spring of 2017 (several months after we stopped the Advanced Cancer Circle), I received the heartbreaking message that DJ had died – sweet and soft spoken but powerful and poignant.

And now Larry is gone.  I remember meeting Larry the first time – he was already in the room when I arrived.  He was seated on the sofa and looking quite dapper. I regretfully confess that my first impression was that he was such an odd fit for the Circle.  He looked nervous and out of place and I thought he would be a one-timer and certainly not return. But return he did, week after week . . . month after month.  When he went to Canada that summer to visit his family, at his insistence, we Skyped him into the weekly Circles.  When the Circle had dwindled down to just two or three, Larry was the constant, still coming each week to hold the rim.  He adamantly didn’t want the Circle to end.  Healing Circles had truly transformed Larry.  My last visit with Larry was about a week before he died; during this final Circle he shared that he knew his end was near, but he had found a sense of healing and therefore he was at peace.

Although the Advanced Cancer Healing Circle stopped meeting over a year ago, I was glad to have met and had the incredible chance to witness each of us find an essence of healing in the shadow of the cancers that loom(ed) within us.

To Brooke, Bill, Karen, DJ and Larry – thank you for your love and for sharing your truths with intention.  Knowing you with such intensity provides to me the determination to continue to hold the rim, share, listen and search for peace in every healing moment.

Susan Rafte
Director, Healing Circles Houston
January 20th, 2018

From left to right: Larry, Karen, DJ, Marlin, Maria, Sandra and Bill.