Monday, March 10, 2014

Anam Cara


There are women who have taken care of me since Dave got sick.  Just about everything I've learned about love and devotion I've learned from them.

 Dave's death cut the cord keeping me upright on this planet and as I fell, fell, fell, unable to stop the falling, unable to breathe, they cradled me. 

In every sense of the words, cradled me. In the car on the way home from the hospital that day, they cradled me, one physically, and the other, while driving us, with her mind and heart. I could feel her energy radiating from the front seat. It held me. 

They fed me, they helped me out of bed. They fielded the tasks I couldn't yet bring myself to do. They did them. They didn't do them out of obligation, they felt honored to. I am a part of them and they are a part of me.

And many times when we get together now, we retell these stories. The story of the moments we remember that brought us together in the hours and days after Dave left this earth. We talk about the horror, the pain, the love, the fear, the fury, the agony, the confusion. 

We talk and we cry and we build up this bond we have until it feels like metal armor, keeping the pain of life from crippling us. Watching each other, knowing that at the first sign of needing to be held, we'll drop it all to be there. To do the holding while the other of us falls, falls, falls. 

We know that we were brought together for a reason. We know we are more than just women who happen to be friends. We know that while we are not biologically related, we are related in a way that transcends blood. It feels as though these women were my family in this life and in lives before and if you knew me, you'd know that I don't speak woo-woo often. But this I know. 

The other night, sitting around a fire pit, with a chorus of frogs to talk over and the sounds of great blue herons croaking their goodnights above us, we said it all again. We talked about how we belonged to each other, above and beyond the changes that rock our worlds, the men in our lives who might come and go. The places we live might be farther and farther apart and our jobs might change, but nothing changes what we mean to each other and the love we feel for each other. I know that nothing so bad could happen to me that I couldn't find my home again, that I couldn't find myself again. I know I can find them

There is, in the celtic tradition, the notion of anam cara, or soul friend. It is believed that when you have an anam cara, you can come home to yourself. That kind of unconditional love allows you to feel less fear of solitude. Your soul can be itself. 

If life itself is under the shadow of sadness and loss, then love like that can shelter us from the bleakness. It's our respite. 

I am lucky enough to have several of these anam caras. They are why I've had the strength to keep going. They are who I think of when I think I've had enough of the pain of this life. They are my shelter from the harshness of life. They're my soul friends. 


  1. I LOVE this! In the past I used to get so jealous of people who have this, love and friendship. But I have done a lot of work and I am now able to take the crumbs that are given me and appreciate them without the bitterness of my loneliness screeching "More"!. Each day I still wake up and say "I have got to get a life", but now I remind myself that I am, in fact, living one. It is certainly not the life I wanted, but it is still a life. And to varying degrees it is up to me to improve it.

    I stumbled across this Blog via Allison Miller and a camper's FB group. Reading the experiences of so many others who believe in serendipity and spiritual connections has enabled me to broaden my quest for love into another dimension. I surely must have anam caras in another realm, looking out for me, sending love through the veil. I derive so much comfort and strength through prayer, whereas there is very little in this world. I will cherish the bits and pieces of help that I get from others, and perhaps one day an in-the-flesh anam cara (or several) will come into my life. Thank you for the reminder to "leave the door open".

    1. Snowygirl, I so agree with everything you've said. That friendship support during and after the dying that Cassie describes was in crumbs, yet it was there. I felt bottomless support spiritually, as my relationship with God has long been comfortable and deep. For the simple human loneliness I sometimes feel now, It's up to me to learn new skills for building friendships that can be anam caras.

    2. Funny... Cassie, you mention that men come and go, but women friends stay. My experience has been the opposite. The women have been inconsistent, overcautious, even petty. The men have provided shelter and support for adventure and growth. I'm glad you share your positive experience with kind women. My 'friendship picker' will be recalibrated to include adventurous and supportive women. My female contemporaries are no longer raising children and are retiring from careers, so now is a perfect time to reach out.

  2. I have several soul friends. Unfortunately, we all have been experiencing losses...parents, spouses. We hold each other up as your friends did you, when all seems doomed. I wouldn't be where I am today without them, and they likewise. Throughout the years, good times and bad, we are there, when others come and go, we are there. It is awesome to have friends like that. I'm glad you have them too, that connection with others keeps me going after losing my main person. My soul would be empty but for them.