Beloved Member, Friend, Community Leader Kimchi Rylander passes away at 56
by Sarah Anne Amazon
Kimchi Rylander came into my life 10 years ago at the Southeastern Permaculture gathering in Celo, NC. In the last year of her life, we were on “The Divine Feminine” committee for the gathering and when we met she would share her perspective, saying, “This is not ‘my cancer,’ this is ‘our cancer’ and what is playing out in my body is what is being done to our momma Earth!”
When she received the terminal diagnosis, she said, “I’m dying and the cancer has spread throughout my body. So I want to work on dying well and supporting a positive death-ing culture.” I still remember feeling such awe and inspiration, mixed with sadness and curiosity.
A few other examples of how Kimchi held up the light of her wildly creative heart in the face of death and said, “I’m going out with style!”:
– She decided to have a “give-away” because it was so important to her to share the stories of each precious object that might live beyond her.
– She created a “Guess which day Kimchi will croak?!” raffle, the proceeds going towards positive education about death.
I was blessed to be a part of a loving transition team as a death doula during her final weeks at Earthaven. As the cancer took over her body, she spoke much less, and when she did speak it was softer and slower. During one visit with friends she said, “It’s all about love; really, it’s all about love.” She was visited by a river of loved ones who were eager to share their gratitude and love with her.
Kimchi found comfort in being able to walk on her own until the day before her transition. She also wanted to send out a community voicemail I wrote down for her: “It’s time for me to go, and I’ve had a wonderful time in this play box of life. I was happy to do things together, but I have new projects awaiting me….”
left: Kimchi’s funeral procession.
Kimchi passed surrounded by loving witnesses, holding her sister Bridget’s hand. Her body was planted back into the Earth she loved so much on the exact day of her 56th birthday. In her honor, a song group continues to gather to send support during the 9-month Gestation Period some believe it takes to die and travel to the Land of the Ancestors.
above: At Kimchi’s orchard gravesite.
May we long remember the ways Kimchi challenged and inspired us, feel more alive as we remember the unique expression of her life, and sing gratefully and often in her memory.
Earthaven neighbor Sarah Anne Amazon is a dedicated meditator who loves to attend extended retreats, including with prisoners, and to support the little people for a better world. She also loves Nature, cooking, dancing, singing and NVC.