Carol Brunner Rutledge’s diary of the three months preceding her mother’s death allows us to to share Carol’s journey from anguish to self-discovery and healing.
“Between my home in Topeka on the eastern edge of the Flint Hills and Hope on the western side, there are 100 miles of prairie and sky. This tallgrass land has sheltered my people for generations. It has taunted us and clamed us, broken us and nurtured us, starved us and fed us. It is our span over birth, growth and death. Death which beckons now to my mother.
Carol records her frustration at the insensitivity of medical professionals who ignore her mother’s strong spirit while continuing to labor over a body that no longer works. Between the callously impersonal world of high-tech medicine, and the healing rhythms of nature, Rutledge finds refuge in the vast prairie landscape. “Tonight on the prairie…I am well aware I am just one small speck in the midst of the grasslands. ..the things I am in charge of are quite insignificant. I cannot take my Mother’s dying and make her well.”
Throughout the diary, her eloquent descriptions of the prairie let us experience the prairie as though we were there.
“Today on the prairie, I knew silence. It was around and over and through me. It flowed over the rises and breaks. It rushed across the flint and the seed and pressed upon me until I felt as if I had grown like an Atlas of the grasslands, flinging wide my arms to touch the sky, holding up all my silence. A raptor’s wings beat the air, a straight dive, a shrill cry in the quivering grass. Hawk now rising, heavy burden dragging. Flying higher and higher, to reach some prairie haunt to fill its body…like silence fills my soul.
By diary’s end, Rutledge and her mother have finally made peace with the inevitability of loss—Her words remind us that in the end “love is all that matters.”