I’ve attended several writers’ retreats I’ve attended at the fabulous Breath of Life Retreat House. The last time I was there, the proprietor gave me a copy of her memoir.
Candy Cotton grew up in California in a home with an alcoholic father. She longed for his love and affection, but she never knew from one moment to the next how he would respond to her or her brother or mother. When her parents’ marriage broke up, she blamed herself.
As she grew, so did her faith. Raised Roman Catholic, she took her confirmation classes seriously and strove to live a life pleasing to God.
After high school, she took a job in a Mexican restaurant while studying advertising art at the local college. A young man, Mike Roe, passed her a note through the drive-thru window asking her for a date. She accepted, and they eventually got engaged. A year later, they married and moved to Arizona. They had three children, Sarah, Kayci, and Preston.
One day while playing basketball, Mike fell taking a jump shot and shredded his Achilles tendon. He required surgery to mend the damage. Two-and-a-half weeks later, he developed a cough which worsened over the next few days until he could barely breathe. When Candy took him to the emergency room, after a battery of tests doctors discovered blood clots in his lungs and admitted him. Mike would receive treatment that would isolate and dissolve the clots. Unfortunately, his condition worsened, and he died within twenty-four hours.
When she returned home, while her mother was contacting family and friends about Mike’s death, Candy received a call from the hospital asking if she could come back the next day to meet with the doctor and staff. At that meeting, she learned that Mike was inadvertently given the wrong dosage of medication. His death was caused by an error. In addition to the grief of losing her husband so suddenly, learning his case had been mishandled was a devastating blow. She hired a lawyer and began the process of negotiating a settlement.
In those first few days after Mike’s death, the words retreat house entered Candy’s mind. She was sure God said those words to her, but she wasn’t sure why. She prayed about it, and when her settlement came through, she told her lawyer that part of it would be earmarked for building a retreat house in Mike’s honor. It would be named Breath of Life because the last words Mike spoke to her were “I can’t breathe.”
She bought a property in the mountains of Pine, AZ, and renovated it into a destination for religious retreats and also for quilters, scrapbookers, and writers.
Five years after Mike passed away, Candy met Jim Bridges. They fell in love, married, and ran Breath of Life together. Now they are ready to retire from the retreat house, and the property is for sale. If you ever wanted to run a retreat house or a bed and breakfast, now’s your chance if you act quickly! The retreat house’s Zillow listing is linked to the Breath of Life website along with 84 gorgeous photos of the buildings and grounds.
Meet Me in the Mountains was very interesting to me because of knowing Candy from the three writers’ retreats I attended at Breath of Life. Before she moved to the mountains, she lived in a town near mine, and she attended a church near my house. She is also a professional artist and calligrapher, which I admire about her. All these connections made her memoir compelling to me. I loved getting to know her better through her book.