This coming weekend, June 1-2, I will attend Arkansas Writers’ Conference in Little Rock. On Friday night and early Saturday morning, we will have time set aside for “read arounds” when any of the conference participants can share a story, essay, or poem with their fellow writers. I hope to read this short piece I wrote in 2003 entitled, “Dear Cathy.”
Madelyn F. Young
I have been thinking of you today. I wish you could be here in Hot Springs Village right now. The sun is bright, and the sky is a brilliant blue—“October’s bright blue weather”—remember that poem? Our house is almost finished, and I can hardly wait to move in. I want to sit out on our new deck on these cool, crisp mornings and enjoy the autumn colors in the distance. If you were here, we could sip our mugs of coffee and chat about all that’s going on.
There is beauty almost everywhere in the Village, and I should be so happy. But I’m feeling sad this morning. Every time I drive over to the new house site, I pass a scene that breaks my heart. Under the power lines, hundreds of pine seedlings display ugly, rusty needles instead of green. Leaves on nearby bushes are drooping, dark, and dry. Tall grasses wave pitiful burned fronds in the breeze.
I know Village crews have merely done their job. They must spray those deadly chemicals to kill the undergrowth. Power lines must be free of obstruction. It’s a matter of doing a necessary evil to have a good outcome, they would say. We know all about that, don’t we?
Your doctors administered dose after dose of chemo and radiation, and your beautiful body withered just like those plants. Bravely you struggled against the assault, knowing the tumor had to shrink for you to regain your health. When you died, the cancer was only the size of a pea.
Now I gaze at those scarred landscapes and wonder if all that destruction is really necessary. Must we mar such a vast amount of beauty to save the flow of electricity to our homes? Must we destroy so many healthy tissues to save ourselves from malignancy?
Among the endless stretch of lifeless weeds, I see yellow wildflowers springing up to brighten their surroundings. If you were here, you would be painting a watercolor to capture their beauty. Perhaps you are surrounded now by even more glorious scenes. I hope so. But I miss you. Give my love to Mother and Dad.
Your loving sister,