Sandra Jones, who attended the Taos Conference last year, passed away in November after many years of illness. She took Jane Ciabbatari's workshop--that's her on the far right in the above photo. Sandra was a beloved member of her writing community in Seattle. Wilhemina Condon, who also came to Taos and knew Sandra well throughout her cancer, wrote this remembrance:
Sandra received a small reprieve last summer, a small, but valuable, gift of time. By July her battle with cancer was at an uneasy stalemate. She wanted to spend her time writing. She wanted to go to the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. She wanted to work on her craft. She had become a serious writer. It was a good week. She was a diligent student, completing every assignment and attending every lecture. She took copious notes. She worked hard and felt she was making progress. Her teacher, Jane Ciabattari, recognized her talent and praised her work. She was writing strong and well.
Four months later I drove Sandra home from the hospital late at night in an artic snowstorm that hit Seattle just before Thanksgiving. Her time was running out. We drove slowly through the empty snow hushed streets. There were abandoned cars on the road and the moon was bright. Everything looked familiar and unfamiliar under the mounds of snow. Time seemed to pause and then mercifully stopped and we were alone in the universe, just two travelers in time, together in those suspended seconds. I remembered such a moment at Taos driving with Sandra down a red clay road on a hot July afternoon. We had taken a wrong turn that turned out to be right and found ourselves in the middle of nowhere stunned into silence by the sheer magnitude of a New Mexico sunset. I remember feeling small and important at the same time as the universe expanded before us.
Sandra must have thought of that sunset too because she smiled at me and said, “Taos.”