When my daughter was a baby, I got sick. It seemed that every bug that was going around Homer that year clung to me. Months of hacking and sneezing and feeling feverish culminated with a painful and persistent sinus infection. Since I was breast-feeding I didn’t want to take antibiotics, so I suffered along and took care of myself as best I could in hopes that my immune system would kick into action. It seemed stuck though, and I was about to give up on my no antibiotics resolve altogether when I decided to try one last thing. That’s when I called Sara.
I’d taken a community schools class with Sara about classical homeopathy, and while I was intrigued about it, I was not convinced it would heal my sinus infection. Still though, I made the appointment with the hope that it might help in some way, and I desperately needed some relief.
At the time I lived in town and Sara’s home office was several miles out East End Road. I packed up my baby and made the trek to her place and sat in her cozy office for what seemed like a very long time while she asked me hundreds of questions. To my surprise the questions she asked weren’t about my condition, instead they were strangely specific and methodical. I don’t remember most of them, but I recall being asked if I preferred sweet apples or tart apples. And another question that ended up being an important part of the puzzle. Did I have any recurring dreams? At the time I said no. Not because I was trying to lie, but because I just didn’t remember them.
After all of the questioning, Sara took some time to do her thing, which as far as I could tell involved looking at my answers and poring through the books and notes that she’d collected throughout the years of her practice. Out of all the homeopathic remedies that are available, Sara narrowed it down to two different ones that she thought might be able to help me. She gave me one of the two and sent me on my way with a promise from me that I’d let her know whether or not it worked.
In two hours time, the headache I’d had for three weeks was gone. For a while that evening I had some relief from the relentless pounding in my head, but just before going to bed it started to creep back. After getting the kids to bed, and crying over the fact that the homeopathic remedy worked temporarily but not permanently, I remembered my recurring dream. It was a dream I tried to forget about, not because it was scary or bad, but because it involved a past love. It makes sense that I wanted to suppress that dream. It was completely incompatible with my real life.
The next morning I called Sara back and told her about the few hours of relief I’d had, and I told her that I’d answered her question about recurring dreams incorrectly. She said that settled it, the remedy that she’d given me was not the right one and that I should go back and get the correct one from her. I followed her suggestion and went back to receive the little white sugary pill that the greater scientific community says does nothing, and my sinus infection went away for good. I haven’t had another one in the twenty-three years since then. And as a bonus, like magic, the recurring dream went away as well. None of it makes any sense according to the way we know things work and don’t work, but in my case the homeopathic remedy worked, and the experience made me a believer.
Many of the people reading this know Sara. She’s a long-time Homer resident married to another long-time Homer resident, Ed, and together they are a powerhouse of knowledge and hospitality and goodness. But recently they’ve suffered the worst imaginable thing. You see, Sara is the mother of Anesha Murnane, or Duffy as she was more widely known, and Duffy went missing back in September. She left her apartment in broad daylight on a Thursday afternoon to walk to an appointment, but she never made it.
Something happened to her that somebody must be able to explain, but so far none of the answers have made their way back to Sara and Ed. And Sara and Ed know about asking questions. They’ve been asking and asking, following every idea and potential lead that comes their way. There have been news stories locally and statewide; there have been search parties around the Kenai Peninsula. There have been public vigils and private prayer circles, but still Duffy’s whereabouts are unknown. None of it makes sense, and the unlikelihood of her disappearance makes it all so much more upsetting. Duffy wasn’t a risky person. She had a close relationship with her parents. Her days were made up of routines and familiar comforts. She had things to look forward to.
There is nothing good that has come of Duffy’s disappearance. A shadow of uncertainty looms over town as we wonder what terrible thing happened to her. Her parents are having to come to terms not with just the fact that they’ll likely never see their daughter again, but that they may never have the answers they’re seeking. There’s a sense that someone’s done something horrible and that if that person is not found something horrible could happen again. There is nothing good that has come from Duffy’s disappearance.
And yet, goodness can still be found.
I visited Sara and Ed on New Year’s Eve as the temperature outside was dropping and a blizzard was moving in. They shared their lunch and some of Ed’s homemade kombucha with me. We talked about Duffy and the ways they’re coping. Their kitty, Louisa May Allycat, popped up on my lap as we ate lunch and Sara joked about the books the cat has written…. Little Bats, Little Shrews, Little Mice. We looked through their wedding album and saw the twenty-years younger versions of so many of the beautiful people who celebrated that day with them. Sara shared a piece of writing with me about grief. I went there hoping that I could give them a little bit of support, a little bit of relief. I wasn’t expecting to get it in return, but I did.
Spending time with them in their comfortable home reminded me of when I was a young mother, desperate for some relief and seeking some healing. Sara made me feel at home and asked me questions and administered a remedy that worked. I wish I could offer her the same now, but I know the kind of healing she and Ed needs doesn’t work like that. Still though, I believe in healing, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. I believe it’s what we’re here for. To heal each other and our world in whatever ways we can.