Ranunculus, iris petals, green liveforever
Martha’s Mandala

Everything changes, right? Today is May 10, 2021, the 31st anniversary of my cerebral aneurysm. The day often passes without notice, but not this year. In my case it’s hereditary. My mother and youngest brother died of theirs in the 1960s, at age 38 and 10 respectively. My other brother had one right after the pandemic started, had surgery, and survived. Hard to sit with this, and feel it in my chest, even though it’s long past. I believe these feelings find a place to live inside us, and if we give them room, they expand rather than diminish us.

This mandala is gorgeous, and also a good representation of the pain that exploded in my head, unanticipated, that morning. The pressure was intense, like they’d suddenly turned on a water system that didn’t have an outlet. I didn’t lose consciousness. After a while I called my doctor and former colleague. He came to the house, and called the ambulance. After surgery and eight days of hospital care, they sent me home. I like to say they gave me a new brain.

Needless to say, this experience changed my life. A year later I started college, aged 40, a freshman at Dominican. After that I got a Master’s in Public Health at Johns Hopkins, and started my professional career.

I’d gone through the scariest thing I could imagine — brain surgery — and come out the other side. I figured nothing could scare me as much. It’s good to remember that today, when life happens and I react. Taking a deep breath here. The pressure is my chest has lightened. Still feeling tightness, though it’s moved from my chest to my throat, so is changing. Everything changes, right?

My sister made the second mandala during her visit, and it’s as lovely as she is. They just took off to go back to New Mexico. Miss her already.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Janet Robbins

    You had so much sorrow at such a young age, a lot to bear. But you came through, and went on to fill your life with much important work in public health and, lately, such creativity in these mandalas. I also went to college in my 40s and it led to a rich career at CalAcademy. I loved being a 40-something college student, I was way more motivated than many of my younger co-students! Made a difference in my life. xo

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