Life at the End of a Fishing Line

The original plan for Time is a River was to write a novel about women friends who share the love of fly-fishing. Then fate intervened in the form of an invitation from Brookside Guides in Asheville to volunteer my time helping at the North Carolina/South Carolina Casting for Recovery retreat. The program is designed to help breast cancer survivors find their soul-stirring connection to life once again.

So I journeyed to the mountains of our sister state, where I served as assistant, pack mule and anything else required of me for fourteen cancer survivors. Some of the women had only recently completed their treatments, while others had been cancer free for many years.

Standing in that river with these survivors, I watched them learn to catch then release their trout to swim away and live another day. From their expressions of surprise and delight when they caught their first fish on a fly rod I found the heart of my story— connecting to life at the other end of a fishing line.

"Stand a moment longer and listen to the music of the water. Breathe deep and soon you will catch its rhythm and your blood will pump its heady beat. As your body hums, your mind releases the nagging worries you carried with you to the river-- thoughts of business and family and work and future slowly drain from you to be picked up in the current and dragged away. You now feel lighter, freer. You see with fresh eyes. You hear the secrets of the river. You are the river. Now you are ready to connect with the fish." (pg. 146, Time is a River)

My main character Mia, which loosely translates to mean ‘me,’ would embody the hopes every person has of discovering personal strengths and finding the joy in living. Mia would be a breast cancer survivor, but needed to learn what it means to not merely survive, but to live again through the healing powers of nature.

My grandmother and mother both died of breast cancer. In their memory, I continue to support Casting for Recovery as a means to bring survivors to the river, where they can let go of their troubles, breathe in that heady freedom from cancer worries and cancer treatments, then boldy go out to find their bliss.
"This was her body. She knew she should let go of her old self-image and make peace with the way her body was now... Mia closed her eyes and said a small prayer for strength. She had to let this fear of cancer go down the drain with the dirty water. To live fully, she had to believe she would live." (pg. 49, Time is a River)
What can you do in honor of breast cancer survivors or in memory of those claimed by the cancer? You can support the national non-profit Casting for Recovery in your region. For more information, visit http://www.castingforrecovery.org/.

1 comment:

  1. hello,

    i'm one of your french fans-
    i'm reading "time is a river", i really enjoy your style as usually-

    but, i'm a bit at disease with the love story-

    mia is uncertain of being loved after cancer, but, bingo, charming prince comes to her-

    it should be uplifting for the readers, but!---

    well: mia is very beautiful, very thin, very rich, and she practices with passion and energy the same sport as him- (the same boring sport, if you ask me!)
    why wouldnt'he come to her, indeed---

    i'm not yet at the end of the novel but i can see the surgery coming- mia will be as good as new!
    we can't say we're not warned: just be beautiful, thin, rich and fond of boring sports, love is just around the corner for you- that's a quite unpleasant message, you see: "i (the author) can't put a really damaged heroin in my book, mia has to be perfect- i know damaged tin cans stay on the shelves, i'm not sure damaged people may have more luck than merchandise"-

    as a result, the novel says exactly the contrary of its purpose, i find this strange-

    of course i'll stay a happy and impatient reader of your novels, but please don't forget to put a few bits of truth in them (that's what i liked so much at the beginning, when i discovered your novels, nearly ten years ago)-



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Mary Alice