Looking for Joy, Finding Trouble

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, Photoshops her Havanese dog's eye in a landscape of fields and dark clouds.I’m trying to find joy here. In the remnants of a record breaking winter, I will embrace almost anything nonthreatening, as joy. Like my dog that tiptoes to each of the last little islands of ice in the driveway, preferring to potty on leftover snow rather than contend with the mud. Rallying my brightest spirits, I carry Suki from one patch of icy snow to another, cheering her on, “Yes, Suki, you can do this.” And I scan the clouded sky wondering, where’s the joy?
Because it’s for sure not going to be joyful when all this snow melts. The huge avalanche slowly slipping off my roof, the high peaks plowed right and left along the length of the driveway, the packed-down path to the front door, … I mean, where is all this melting snow gonna go? Where else but flooding into the house? Thunderbeckon.

Thunderbeckon. THUNder-beck-n. The name tumbles in my head. I did not create this; it was in a book I read 20 years ago. Beneath the dark depths of some ocean there was a shipwreck or some deep-sea topographical protrusion that, in a storm, could dash a ship to shards. Thunderbeckon became the name for the cumulus cloud lumbering in my head during the journey with my daughter through the wilds of cancer. “Your cancer is my cancer,” I’d told Marika when my breath got stuck in my gut. Thunderbeckon meant Trouble. Major, big-time, high stakes Trouble.

“Everybody’s Got Something,” Robin Roberts, anchor on ABC’s Good Morning America, titled her memoir in which she tells about overcoming cancer and other challenges. Another anchorwoman, Erika Castillo of KFOX14, who I keep up with on Facebook, now gears up for her own fight. My list of chemo warriors grows. But as memories of cancer get farther from home, my own nightmares have shrunk in gravity.

These days I allow myself to get headaches over smaller stuff or over things that worry others: The smoke alarm going off at 4:30AM two nights in a row. Skunks in my garage. Snakes under the deck. The computer that keeps quitting on me. Friends’ daughters who have been sick or arrested or are leaving home for good. And then there’s my own son who is packing up his gear again. His duffel lies stuffed on the laundry room floor.
“Mom, I’m going to El Paso,” he says. “Remember the friends I stayed with last time? Well, Erika was diagnosed with cancer.”


What Thunderbeckons keep you awake nights?



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8 thoughts on “Looking for Joy, Finding Trouble

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    It doesn’t let up, does it? Thanks for the new work “Thunderbeckon.” I’m sure I’ll have many uses for it. We’re still praying for spring and waiting for the snow to melt, but yesterday flocks of robins pecked through my fields. Maybe they know something we don’t know. I hope so.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Yes, and the geese have daily been filling the gray skies. We can pray and wait some more though as I hear we’re getting snow again this weekend. I’m glad you like “Thunderbeckon” but remember it was not a name I created myself. One day one of us will stumble on the sea adventure from which it came. I still wonder why it doesn’t come up in Google except for the name of some rock band. Cheers, Elaine.

  2. Annette Corth

    Robin, the photo is magnificent! What an eye you have! What an eye Suki has!

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you, Annette. You recognized Suki’s eye! You liked it! Cheers!

  3. Nicole

    First, I’m crazy about that photo. It should be framed somewhere. How did the clouds get so inky?!
    Second, I dig Thunderbeckon. I’m going to use that.
    Third, I want to share part of a poem that was given to me by a sweet sweet friend, when she heard I was leaving and drowning in the loose ends.
    “Let this darkness be a bell tower, and you the bell. As you ring, what batters you becomes your strength…”

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I love it: the darkness and the bell ringing. Thanks, Nicole. Reverse Image in Photoshop yields some weird effects on things. Thunderbeckon yes, let’s have a Thunderbeckon blitz. It’s so fun to say aloud. I hope you’re loving your time in the west. Keep in touch please.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I’m so sorry about Mama Cat, Franklin. I was keeping up with your posts on Facebook until this weekend. She looked like one of the Finer Cats, I mean: a real sweetie. It feels miserable to see them go and yet you know you don’t want them suffering. A bummer, all this living and dying stuff. Pets should be excluded from all the painful parts of life. After all they see us through (and mine have mopped up buckets of tears, let me tell you) they should be given a break when it comes to pain. And I guess that’s what we try to do for them. But it hurts. Take care of yourself, Franklin. And know that you did right for her and loved her. Hugs!


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