Carriers of Light

IMG_2924 “What is going on with you?” Eleanor softly inquired.

Pacing, cupping the side of my head I stopped mid-step, responding with a deep sigh. “I don’t know, something is missing for Friday night’s gala.”


“I want to mention the significance of ‘our light’ when I speak to the audience.”

“Really! Please tell me more.”

“Okay, so I want to mention how at times when dealing with cancer, a person’s light may be dimmed by suffering with pain, anxiety, hopelessness, grief or fear. I want to encourage people to think about rekindling the light of another or being the mirror that reflects the light. You know, encourage others to be a carrier of light.”

“You need candles!”

“Yes, but I need 300 in less than 2 days.”

“What about those battery-operated candles? I’ll check online.”

Time passed, no luck in procuring a few hundred in such a short period of time. And then…. I’ll always remember Eleanor peering around the corner of my office biting the side of her bottom lip, eyebrows raised, eyes bright…

“Patti, why not tea lights?”

No surprise, the very next day, placed upon my desk were 300 tea lights. We lit a few hundred tea lights the following night. It didn’t go quite as we had hoped… it was a tad messy but what a valiant effort.

Recently, I learned the meaning of the name Eleanor. Across many cultures, Eleanor means shining light, one of substance and style. Acquiring those candles had more meaning than I ever imagined. I have countless stories of Eleanor, her unfaltering light, her ever-accessible heart. Even as she recognized that cancer was advancing throughout her body, feeling her life slipping from her grip, the illuminating light of her spirit never dimmed. There is a line in Harper Lee’s book where Atticus states, “That was her magic, she could still see the sunset, even on those darkest days.” That was Eleanor’s magic, her shining light illuminated the path for many people who stepped through our doors. She was an integral part of our staff, our inspiration, our librarian, our thank you card extraordinaire and a dear friend to many. Our hearts ache as we grieve the loss of someone we love dearly. Simultaneously, our hearts are full of deep gratitude for the honor and privilege to know Eleanor, our shining light.

Recently I read a post by Parker Palmer that resonated with me. He asked, “What if we cultivated the capacity to feel each other’s losses and developed a deeper awareness of our mutual mortality?” He implored, “Surely we’d want to spend more time working with others to bring a better, more beautiful world into being.” I would add, perhaps if we all rose our hands and became carriers of light for one another we could make this world more beautiful.


Blessings for peace. Pause, Breathe, Proceed, Patti

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