Photo from National Geographic magazine.

May 18, 1980. Eruption of Mt St. Helens. Photo from National Geographic magazine.

As you may already know, Mt. St. Helen’s erupted on this day, 34 years ago. This is a mountain in the Cascade range, one of the two mountain ranges in my state of Washington. I was in the 8th grade when it happened and although the mountain is nearly 200 miles from the city in which I grew up, I could see the ash plume from the home of the neighbor at which I was babysitting.

It was the first time I remember there being a natural disaster near where I lived. Unlike earthquakes, this seismic event could be predicted. The area was evacuated. Nonetheless, there were casualties, people who refused to leave the area. Harry Truman, an elderly man who lived on Spirit Lake, was interviewed prior to the eruption. He stated under no uncertain terms, would he leave the area. He stayed and he died.

What was most upsetting to me was the fact that two children, Day Andrew Karr (aged 11) and Michael Murray Karr (aged 9), were also killed. They actually lived in my town and their father TOOK THEM to see the mountain erupt. A photo of Day Karr’s lifeless and naked body, sitting in the back of a pick up truck was on the cover of a national magazine. I found the photo and planned to put it in this post but honestly, it is still too upsetting to me. The child had not been identified at the time the photo was published. As I recall, Day’s grandmother recognized him when she saw the cover of the NATIONAL MAGAZINE! What a horrible way to identify a body. My mother was asked to sing for the father and the boys’ funeral, which she did.

As I have mentioned, I have been dealing with anger about my cancer in the last few months. And as I have mentioned, anxiety typically underlies my experiences of anger. I feel it bubbling and sometimes it smokes and puffs a little. I have been less patient with my family.

I know that I am not going to blow like Mt. St. Helens. But I can feel something coming and I’m not sure how to prevent it. I can’t evacuate from myself. I keep walking in the woods, meditating, and so forth. I am trying to take care of myself. But this feels like a grief episode and likely increasing in part because next Saturday marks 2 years since my breast cancer diagnosis.

The other waves of grief have been ones I had to ride until I got to the other side. I suspect this will be the same. I can comfort myself with the view of a snow capped Mt. St. Helens that I saw from the airplane on my way back to Seattle from New Orleans. It was part of a beautiful range of mountains.