It is the be-twixted and between hour of the morning. I rolled over to see the red numbers on the alarm clock flash 4:04 a.m. – way too early to get out of bed. I closed my eyes and pulled the covers up around my neck, but sleep didn’t come. My mind tried to go back to my fading dreams. Marty encouraged me to quietly review any images that float by. Marty recommended keeping a dream journal. Marty taught me to look for messages in the imagery of colors, elements and the feelings in my body when I awake.

When Marty first came to town, she joined our group of women at Deb’s house. Were we a book group because we read? Were we activist because we had causes? Were we New-Aged curanderas because we believed in aromatherapy, mind-body connections, massages and Reiki?

Marty brought in a new dimension – dream works. For months, I thought of Marty each morning as I came out of the night fog. I wanted to remember my dreams and see secrets that semi-conscious world might reveal. Mostly, my solar plexus ached. The cause was no secret.

Last night, Deb emailed our group that Marty was surrounded by family and transitioning out of this life. It was not unexpected, but still comes too soon. A month ago, Marty texted me that the doctors could do no more and she had stopped treatments. Despite a few attempts to meet, her health and my schedules left only one phone call between us. I have the Mexican copal incense and New Mexico magazines by my door, but they never made it to hers. I took the copal outside under the stars last night. The wind whipped its smoke into the black sky. A planet sparkled through the pine’s branches. Does Marty know? Has she already changed her shape?

Two days ago, death was the theme of our church movie night. Defending Your Life, written and directed by Albert Brooks (1991), depicted a comedic vision of life after death. Seems we all get white robes and a tram ride to Judgement City, where you can eat all you want and not gain weight. The movie offered glimpses of beliefs around death by including a Past Life nightclub where you get to view a few former lives and the process of revisiting your most recent incarnation through a dozen or so days chosen by a faux judge to demonstrate your success or failure of earth time. These pivotal points will either prove you worthy to progress to a higher dimension in the universe or be returned to earth for more learning. 

This church group holds beliefs from multiple lifetimes to no afterlife whatsoever. This movie group’s demography heavily tilted the medium age to mid-70s. Each was downsizing or already moved from houses to condos to apartments. Each still actively volunteered, traveled, robustly worked for their causes and, most recently, began caretaking their friends. Their friend’s names were called out. Two with dementia, several with cancer, another planning her funeral, likely a two-hour affair with the best music available and now, Marty.

Marty was raised between cultures – her ancestors arrived with Hernan Cortes’ army marching to Moctezuma’s Aztec Empire and her abuelas regularly spoke to the family ghosts in their century’s old adobe home. When Marty was seven, her mother guided her to hug a tree. Marty became impatient and asked, “For how long?” Her mother answered, “Until it hugs you back.” This was the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marques, the supernatural woven seamlessly into the daily. Marty intuitively listened, trusting in the unseen.

Somehow, time slipped away. Other choices were made. I almost stopped last week on the way home from the Pequot Writer’s Retreat, but it was getting dark. I was tired. I reasoned that her family was with her. I would be an intrusion. We had talked a few weeks ago. Yet, I wanted one more time. Time to thank her for sharing her gift of dreams, of quantum physics, of magical realism, of faith in my own intuition.

Marty’s culture gave her spirit guides, animal nahuals, shaman curanderas and a deep faith in a multidimensional existence. It is again dawn. The darkness in my woods is sprinkled with morning stars. I will light another stick of Mexican copal. Perhaps, in this very moment, she is shape-shifting again.

Read my article on Marty in Her Voice: “The Dream Catcher”
Spring 2023
(flip to page 20)
photo credit: Joey Halvorson


On Sunday, March 3, Marty died at home surrounded by her family. Descansa en paz.


Time is not a given, it is a gift. What are you waiting for?

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