Good News and Bad News

In yoga this week, the instructor, Nancy, began the practice announcing that she had good news and bad news. There was a worried silence. Then she asked which we'd like first. Some said the bad, some said the good. "What if the good news and bad news is the same?" She asked. Then she spoke about learning to react to the world in a different way than we usually do. That basically, the news "is what it is." What makes it good or bad is our response to it. That may be true. But how can you respond to the news that a friend has died with anything but tears? That's what happened Thursday when I was told Ellen Borders had died. "Our Beloved Ellen" as the sign on the library where she worked for 31 years said. Ellen was retiring on April 15. The library board, staff and friends had been planning her not-retirement party (she didn't want one). Ellen chose the books for the Haines library's collection. In other words, she picked the books we read. I haven't blogged since then because I couldn't check-in here without mentioning Ellen, but at the same time there were many people who needed to be contacted personally first. It's funny, but in the facebook-text-email world, the news that a friend has died is still best heard in person.

Ellen's heart stopped Thursday morning as she and husband Ralph were driving to the airport to come home from a trip to see her family in California. She was 55, but her heart had beat on borrowed time for years. Still, she was so vital in so many ways it was a shock. Her friend and fellow librarian, Barb Blood flew down yesterday to be with Ralph, and sent me a note last night that said there will be a memorial service there on Monday at 1pm, and Ralph will be returning later next week for another service here, still to be scheduled. I wrote a column about celebrating Ellen's thirty years with the library last year. Read it here, if you'd like.

In better news, the Haines Merchants are in the championship game at the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament in Juneau. They were bumped, barely, into the losers bracket Thursday by Angoon. Local announcer Doug Olerud would have called the 95-93 game a barn burner. The Merchants came back by beating Hydaburg Friday morning, with Tyler Healy scoring 47 points. Stuart DeWitt also arrived in time to add fresh legs and his usual bowling ball in a crystal shop style from a Spring Break trip to Arizona with his wife. So tonight at 7:30 there will be a re-match in the Mighty B Bracket. Haines vs. Angoon for the championship game. I'll be listening, and cheering for the Merchants, on KINY.

The best news is that my neighbor and volunteer fireman Lyle is back after a long winter of treatments in Seattle for pancreas troubles. A fire truck welcomed him home at the ferry terminal yesterday with lights flashing. Later, I saw him enjoying a walk down Mud Bay Road in the sunshine with his wife.

So, I guess I haven't passed the zen view of the world test yet. I understand what the yoga teacher means by using our minds to control our response to good news or bad. I really do. I know when I broke my pelvis that the only thing I could control was my attitude, and I chose to be positive and that helped me heal. But at the same time, what makes us human are tears and laughter, sorrow and joy. You can't have one without the other, can you? If I didn't laugh so much with Ellen I wouldn't be sad now. If I didn't watch those Merchants grow up and play basketball in high school, I wouldn't be cheering for them, and if I didn't like Lyle's funny, capable ways, I wouldn't have been so concerned about his health, or be so happy to have him home. 



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