I’m Resigning

Photo: Sarah Reynolds

I’m resigning. I no longer want to be a climate change warrior. The weight is too heavy. It makes my shoulders sag and my heart hurt. I can’t get enough people to listen and take action. The storms keep intensifying, the fires burn hotter and still people turn away. I want to turn away! I want to dig my feet into the sand and get lost in a five-hundred page novel.

I’m inclined to blame my change of heart on my sister’s death. It would be easy enough to do. For much of the last four months I slept on a thin foam pad on the floor of her home-office turned bedroom. I watched her skin turn yellow and her spirit dwindle. I didn’t listen to the news once. We were too busy, not being busy. We sat together on her couch and stared at the snow-covered pines. We made chocolate chip cookies with extra chocolate chips. I lived in a cocoon and forgot about the mean-spirited world and the immensity of suffering.

I had one thing on my mind. My sister. Her last days. Our time together. I cooked for her, vacuumed her living room and shoveled the snow off the stairs. Sometimes we talked. Sometimes we didn’t. In the evenings, we crawled into her bed and watched This Is Us. On her last day, surrounded by family, I held the cup up to her mouth as she drank the potion that ferried her into another world. The days and weeks changed me. I don’t know how. I just know they did.

But the truth is, even before my sister got sick, I started to wrestle with the self-imposed moniker, Climate Change Warrior. Her death was an accelerant. Like a strong wind on smoldering embers.

They say, ‘don’t quit your job, move out of the country or join the circus after your sister dies.’ Wait at least a year. But I’m not going to wait.

I’m resigning. I don’t want to call myself a climate change warrior anymore.

I don’t know what’s next.

But I do know I want to keep writing. I want to write about my sister and how hard it was for her to be on this earth. I want to write about the painted ladies flying North, purple lupine on the hillside and the scarlet hummingbird outside my window. I want to write about how hard it is to quiet my mind in the jangle of this city. I want to write about everyday stuff.

Like climate change.


45 comments on “I’m Resigning

  1. you always touch my heart. i hate that you suffered. i envy the blessings you earned. please keep writing.

  2. Davia, I’m a puddle of tears having just read this…..I can imagine you will feel the loss and pain of Eliana’s death for many moons and suns and more moons.
    Be kind to yourself ye of restless spirit.
    Love John Deere

  3. Davia,
    I can’t wait to see what you write and it’s ok to quit. Sometimes you just need to change directions. We won’t really let you get too far away. ❤️

  4. Oh Davia. There is so much I want to say to you. Most importantly, I am so so sorry about your sister’s death. Secondly, her end of life should have been later, but couldn’t have been better. It was exactly what I want for myself.

    Thank you for all your hard work for the climate. I get that you need to switch gears. I had a moment of despair this week myself, but I’ll keep on trucking.

    I sincerely hope our paths cross again.

    With love,
    Lynn Meyer

  5. Flying away from this means so much and so little. Who you are is astonishing and who you will be is not so mysterious — time to joy honor nature as much as you have tried to save it. I feel you flying closer. Ah Little Flea, time to jump tall buildings just for the fun of it.

  6. Love this, Davia. Miss you. Hope to see you and more of your writing soon. Please keep writing about what’s in your heart, climate change and/or otherwise. xoxo

  7. Davia, first of all, my deepest condolences on the passing of your sister. I totally understand your resignation. Focus on the things that bring you joy and rejuvenate your spirit.

    Over the weekend, Sara and I attended a celebration of the life of a friend who passed a couple of weeks ago. It took place at her home and there were hundreds of people who came. It was a very joyful occasion, as she would have wanted. Her gift to us was the reminder that our time in this world is finite, and we should make the most of it.

    You’ve been a tremendous voice in the struggle to preserve a livable world. After some time has passed, if you decide to re-engage, we’ll be here.

    Peace be with you,


  8. Hi Davia,

    I’m super sad to read this. So heartfelt. You put it so well (glad you will continue to write!) that it prompted me to take a moment and in my heart let you go. I hope that little bit of love and acceptance will cross the continent and ease your burden just a little bit.

    All the best,

  9. Oh Davia, my heart hurts as I know so well the journey you have just taken with your sister – and how one can only travel so far with a loved one on that path. Then we who are left behind must seek a different way forward. Your writing is more beautiful than ever and I wish you well as you work to redefine your purpose. I am sending much love your way.

  10. My deepest condolences, Davia. What a brave, courageous time you and your family have gone through…together. What a joy that is. And I understand your pain and your decision. I haven’t had that catalyst, but fully grasp what you’re saying about trying to make a difference.

    But I don’t feel I have a choice right now and will continue fighting for both of us. Hang in there my dear. You hold all the strength you need to get through this difficult time. Much love, :)Ck

  11. I’m so sorry for your loss. You and your sister were lucky to have that time together even if it was also incredibly sad. I’m sure your presence was a huge gift. There are so many ways to be a warrior. Maybe for now the path is a gentle one. If “climate warrior” doesn’t fit, maybe “climate angel” has a more peaceful vibration for this time. We are living in such a harsh time that a softer yet strong presence may be what everybody needs.
    Sending loving thoughts.
    Susan Fisher

  12. I’m sorry for your loss. Truly.

    I hope you find some comfort, purpose, and I hope our paths continue to cross. I will be visiting S. Cal. in late May to (hopefully) participate in a workshop with Pando Populus and hold some fundraising events for Pando’s (and the earth’s) future.


  13. Oh, Davia, this is such a potent statement of love and grief. My heart goes out to you. I hope you will keep writing – and use your writing to stir people’s hearts and minds.

  14. Davia, I appreciate your deep love of life and your people and fellow creatures. I loved this essay It was a beautiful tribute to your sister. May her memories be a blessing to all who loved her. Climate warrior or no, I look forward to our paths’ crossing next time.

  15. I’m not quitting until 2021. Ten years full-time with no substantial progress will be all I can take I’m afraid. Hopefully we’ll have climate action prior to then.

  16. My deepest condolences, Davia!

    I appreciated your post a great deal!

    Keep writing, as you are inspired!!!

  17. It’s important to take care of yourself. Thich Nhat Hanh’s friend told the story that during the Vietnamese War, the Buddhist monks and nuns would go out into the countryside and help care for the sick, be present with the dying, and other ways they could help. They did that for a week at a time, and then they went back into the monastery for a week to recharge their own batteries. Then they would go back out for a week, and back in for a week.

    • Marsha–I went to Deer Park Monastery in the middle of it all. It was a quieting, centering time. I was so grateful to be able to sit in silence with the monks. I see another monastery retreat in my future. Thank you for the story.

  18. Davia, I’m honored that you shared this deeply painful journey with us. Thank you for everything that you do and have done. The world and your sister have been so touched by your love.

  19. Davia, your message is so potent. What a powerful testimony to your sister and what sisterhood can look like. I am holding you in my heart as you are navigating the waves of grief.

  20. Davia, thank you for sharing your heart. Your writing is beautiful. I’m so sorry about your sister and as others have said, you shared the most profound time with her. I’d love to see you at some point. Maybe get a coffee or lunch sometime? Sending much love and strength to you.

  21. Davia,
    I often wake up feeling this way, tracing the distance between the life I want to be living particularly in nature and the work on climate disruption that demands more and more of my attention/time/energy. Every day I review the irony of being swallowed up in efforts to save that which I’ve already lost!
    And I am so saddened by your loss of Ellen.

  22. Davia: I can’t begin to imagine what watching a sibling die does to your spirit. My deepest sympathy to you and your family.

    I hope you will take some time to heal, regroup. When you’re ready, come back to re-join the rest of us who will keep up the good fight against climate change during your sabbatical.

  23. But Davia, you’re so not alone in this fight against climate change! No need to think that shouldering that burden on your own. And things are changing! We have a bill in Congress for crying out loud!

    • Carol–Not to worry. I haven’t left the fold. As we speak I’m organizing a core team of people at my temple to speak to business, community and religious leaders about HR 763. I’m finding my way. And in the process of finding it, sometimes I lose it!

  24. Davia: My heart goes out to you and your sisters. I know what it is watching a parent suffer and take their last breath. But watching a sibling must be much much harder. How fortunate she was to have had you watch over her during her last days and weeks.
    Give yourself all the permission and time you need to mourn for her. Sending love, Carol

  25. Davia, what a beautiful gift you gave to your sister and to yourself and to us by sharing a bit of how your life has been going. I’m really sorry for your loss. Yes, keep writing about whatever pleases you or not.

  26. Phew! You had me worried. I understand how someone finds climate change work too hard. I know many wonderful people who care about the climate, but just find the work too disheartening or challenging. So as I read your post I kept hoping it wasn’t so, fully willing to accept your decision to resign. But I’m SO HAPPY that you will continue to use your prodigious talents to advance action on climate change.
    And I send my condolences to you for your sister’s death. I can tell that you shared precious time with her before she moved on. Those opportunities are rare and sacred, I think, and I’m glad that you made room to share with her until the end.

    I look forward to reading your next post about that every day stuff, like climate change.

  27. Davia, Why is it that I am crying as I write a reply. You put in words many of my own wrestled thoughts, ponderings about death, endings and beginnings, and grief turned to ?. I will ponder my own ?. Thank you for loving your sister in a way that seemed to saturate her with warmth and presence. I will ponder my own attempt at climate angel. I see your wings a growin’

  28. Thanks for sharing your journey with your sister so eloquently. Because you were with your sister in the moment as you needed each other, your grief will be simple without regrets, not complicated by angst about what you didn’t do, or might have done. Personal losses often conceal the gift of an opportunity to review priorities. Take time to be gentle with yourself.

    Finally, I share this most practical advice, that I got too late when I was grieving the loss of my mother. For the next year, drive with extra caution – no sudden lane changes, or ‘squeezing the lemon’ as the light turns red, or trying to complete that left turn when there really isn’t enough space or time. Grieving rightfully distracts, as though one had consumed a couple of drinks. So — drive with extra attention and care, as though you were in a fierce rain dump after dark or the roads were covered with the winter’s first snow, in loving memory of the one you grieve.
    Take good care. You’ll know if or when it is time to re-engage.

  29. Davia, you’ve already done so much for all of us, and for the world that is and is yet to be. You already have a climate warrior legacy that no one could possibly match. However you choose to move from here, I’ll keep reading.

    • Couldn’t agree more with Rick’s comment and all of these powerful accolades to your writing, your voice and your advocacy Davia! Sending peace, love and centeredness in your journey ahead, let us know how we can be there for you our friend.

  30. Davia.
    This is your friend who is the friend of the other Davia. Holding you in love and light as you pass through this time of transition. As hard as it is to recognize it, we do pass through these times of pain and evolve whether we like it or not.

    You inspire me whatever your moniker, whatever your action because I know that whatever you choose it is with deep authenticity and integrity.

    Personally, I have never wanted to be a climate warrior. I would like to be a climate healer. Not sure what that will look like, but you prompt me to give the matter my attention and thought.

    With love,

  31. Davia, what I do know about you with all my heart is your gift as a writer. You capture life in a way that I want to live it. You tell the truth. And your stories matter – to all of us. Please keep writing – about anything and everything. I am one of many who wants to read your words. They are grounding and inspiring, real and funny, tragic and peaceful. Write. Always. xxx j

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