The next step is to leave this fine hotel room, head out in the rain, meet the woman who is buying our home, and sign the papers to make it official. I chose well to stay here for my last night after the furniture was...
Up before the sun is not my usual M.O. But I now rise from bed to enjoy my last day in this house. Today, I say ‘enjoy’ because after taking one to many trips to the dark side, I screamed uncle and called in the big guns. I have plenty of great teachers and mentors in my life, and I have the good fortune of an inclination towards Shamanism as well as a new community who plays in that playground. Ancient spiritual wisdom was just what the doctor ordered l in helping me turn my ship around as I continued to bump ground as I sailed further into dark water. Wading through memorabilia as the memories wafted through air like fruit flies, smacking my skull and knocking me senseless, I was beginning to drown in the pain.
Two Shaman’s later, I am back on solid ground. I don’t mind walking through my grief and allowing it to be - and I needed to see the sun shine just a bit. I needed to know that healing was happening and that this wouldn’t be all there is and was, forever. Shaya Mercer brought me reminders of the little girl I once was as I first explored the territory around this lovely home. We were a happy family, fortunate to vacation at the beach, my parents gorgeous and smart and in love with their little brood. Then suddenly and out of the blue, Dad was leaving and life altered. All my clear memories after that event are my mistakes and humiliations and youthful angst. Might I have been that anyway? Sure, but as we know, divorce messes with kids heads. Like many, I stuffed those feelings way down deep and then stamped them down further as I launched into my addictions. “I will never be left again”, became a mantra. “Be good, be nice, be sweet” became a trap.
The hollowness of my core echoes its mantra into my mind. Or is it the other way around? My mind echoes and tells me it’s my heart. Is my heart breaking? Is this pain real? Does anything ever make sense? I sit to work on my book this morning before the crew comes to pack and the house is filled with that activity. Entrenched in a re-write of my book that began early this year, I hit a serious road bump after the fire, then began again with fits and starts throughout the summer. I am writing an updated version on waiting, bringing in my “new” perspective, removing references to Jack all with the partnership of a new publisher. This is quite an opportunity but I can’t seem to get this sucker off the ground.
With the help of my editor, I have melded new stories with old, changed the introduction, and have places where I merely need to write transitions yet each time I begin again, I wonder, just what is it I am saying? What is this waiting thing after all? Is it a phenomenon? What does it even mean to wait? Recently, on two separate occasions, I received direct reports from new readers of how my words spoke to them, pointed to where they wait themselves and challenged them to look at life differently. This is obviously quite a gift, coming in the midst of my questioning.
Yesterday I had the great opportunity to laugh. After a doubled over fit of hysteria I had in the Bahamas with the Meehan family, which was literally triggered by nothing, I am not sure I have guffawed even once since. Yesterday the damn broke thank the good lord above. I needed it. Big time. Getting way too significant over here, I was. And, yes, I am still mourning – but yesterday I laughed my ass off too.
So this is a time, once again, to acknowledge my friends with whom I can both share the dark angsty stuff as well as laugh like a school girl - or rather a frat boy. With my friends, we cycle between the angst and roar in minutes. This is how I know I am not really going over the edge, by going over the edge. It started simply enough with some banter from a new friend, comic Jeff Wozer about his recent near miss with a killer deer.
17 years ago tomorrow, David and I said “I do” in a c. 1923 waterfront mansion in the nearby town of Portsmouth, Mass. 17 years ago today, it cool and cloudy and I worried that the plans for our outdoor wedding might be squashed if the weather didn’t cooperate. The morning of the October 1st, 1995 was grey and colder than it had been all week. Determined to be wed in the open air, I vetoed the suggestions to move the event indoors. Then, according to lore, as I took my fathers arm and headed toward the crowd, the clouds parted and the sun shone more brightly than it had in weeks. We were blessed with meteorological perfection. The sun and bright blue sky were our companions as we celebrated what was to become the foundation of our journey together. Now, this many years later, the rain has been pouring down for 3 days straight.
David heads back to Seattle tomorrow and I will stay here to finish closing up this house. After baring my soul and my heartache the other day, I hoped the clench in my chest might ease. Grief is funny. Even when losses are obviously leading to other opportunities, it is still painful. I have had many moments of clarity where I see how this decision will impact our life in positive ways. I see the logic, I see the gifts, I see the benefits, and I see how it really can’t be any other way. And, still I mourn the goodbye to this home.
It’s fall in New England. A blustery, overcast day down by the shore carries the vow of a new season, along with remnants of the old drifting by, sprinkled on raindrops trying to make up their mind as to whom they might be. In this mostly summer community, houses are readied for winter, shutters firmly placed, outdoor furniture stowed, boats hauled to dry dockages. It gets quiet, although down here it is always quiet. The biggest sounds of a bustling summer are screen doors slamming, lawnmowers droning and children laughing. It’s that kind of place. Special beyond words, beautiful beyond description. Idyllic with rolling pastures, old clapboard houses, and rocky shorelines. This place is a hope chest of memories for my life. For 41 years, my family owned this house, and even before, we visited my grandparents and I toddled around their rolling lawn and tumbled down to the beach.
Here I sit in this house, for the last time, with alternating waves of anticipation for our next step in this wacky life we are living and devastation that burps to the surface threatening to block out the light. Yes, of course saying goodbye to such a constant in my life would be complicated at this moment when we are still officially homeless. And, yes, the sale of this home will allow us to no longer be homeless. An “artisans bungalow” (as it is described in the MLS) near the lake in downtown Evergreen is readying itself for us and our ragtag of possessions. I came here, to Rhode Island, to carry out the sale of this house as well as to disperse of its contents. 41 years worth of stuff crammed into nooks and crannies, a lot ruined after years of humidity and mouse habitation, and many treasures found.
Twenty-three years ago today, I said ‘yes’ to a life of recovery and ‘no’ to the addictive mess of a life I had been living. Twenty-three years ago, I had no idea my path would twist and turn in so many fascinating directions. Every year at this time, I reflect, yet this year I see my reflection in shards of broken glass. I can’t quite get a grasp on what I see. It changes from moment to moment and day to day. The deep anguish has passed, yet what remains is more confusing, less definite and in many ways, less comfortable. It’s a new stage of grief called “hiding” or “shut down” or “I don’t like who I have been being very much”… This stage lacks clarity, is full of doubts and questions and feels more tiring.
In the early days after the fire, the pain was raw and ragged. Now, it has buried itself in my system. My new companion seems to be a knot in my chest and a very very very (did I mention very?) busy mind. My mind has always erred on the side of busyness but now the loops are endless as I try to figure things out –where will we live, what should I eat, and what is the meaning of life, after all.
On the anniversary of 9/11 many of us unite and reflect on that devastating event that changed lives in a flash and altered how we view the world.
The range of reactions to today will be as wide as the range of personalities on this planet. Many will stop and honor the dead, remember and reflect. Some will weep and mourn. Some will merely go on with their day. Some never have stopped weeping. Some haven’t missed a beat this whole time. In this big, wide, wacky world there is a plethora of reactions to this event, to other events, to how we handle grief and anger and uncomfortable emotions.
Today, I will stop and reflect. I will have gratitude that my slice of tragedy pales in comparison to this enormous event. Yet, I will also mourn my own and continue to gently find my way through something that doesn’t make sense, that came out of the blue and turned my world upside down, leaving life hardly resembling what it was before. I will think of my neighbors who lost loved ones and know their pain is not any less than those who lost loved ones in 9/11. Across the world, people will stop and grieve those lost in 9/11. Who will stop today to remember those lost in the North Fork fire? Or the High Park fire? Or the Waldo Canyon fire? Or any fire? I will.
All good things must come to an end. Not just good things, ALL things - good, bad and indifferent. In this case, it’s a good (a very very very good) thing that is ending in the form of our almost month-long vacation. Ahhhhh. So, here I sit, enjoying a cup of coffee, lubricating my brain and my finger tips and watching the waves on the Isle of Wight Bay at our friends Monty & Sara’s.
It seems the weather changed over night from hot and somewhat muggy to cool and glorious. The breeze is perfection, the color of the sky just right, the feel in the air is early autumn. Fall has officially regained it’s position as my favorite season. It was bumped temporarily as I grew to crave summers in Colorado but after this wildfire season, fall is back on top. So thanks, fall, for showing up. I hear the final percolating exhale of the coffee pot signaling the arrival of more magma. I will rise for that right now but not much else. With mug in hand, I am ready. For something. For the next moment, at least. So, what am I really ready for?
Thoughts swirl through my head. We return to Colorado still without a plan. Things are brewing and plans are emerging but now the layers upon which other layers depend are not clear still and our plans remain without definition.
Peace and I met on a sandbar today. Not just any sandbar mind you but a sandbar in the middle of no where on an island connected to no thing. I stayed with her for a while. Quite a while, even. I knew she would leave me again (or I would leave her) but we enjoyed our time together.
We moved the boat away from Staniel Cay yesterday. Even though we love Staniel, it is still civilization. Internet is slow and challenging and a little too easy to find. And, there are more people around so we can’t just hang out naked which is the best way to be in this humidity. Arriving at Twin Cay yesterday was paradise in the midst of many paradises. As we approached, I saw what I thought was a diver popping in an out of the water. Not seeing a boat in the vicinity, I kept my eyes peeled and pointed to David. He quickly realized (as a former marine biologist) that our visitor was a solo porpoise making its way through the cove. A very nice welcome. We dropped anchor and swam with the gentle current. A little later we snorkeled to shore watching the sandy bottom slowly pass us by. The island can’t be bigger than an acre with a stretch of white sand beach and the rest rimmed with a coral shore. Iron shores is what they call them here. Run a boat aground on that and chances are it won’t ever float again. We strolled down the beach to the end where a tidal pool awaited us. The middle of the island is green with even a few shade trees - short shade trees that is. Without a hat, I didn’t want to stay too long and knew we could come back properly equipped. The sun is scorching hot down here. Cloudless blue skies, white sand and bright blue water send light in all directions. As a Melanoma survivor, I cover up as well as possible. It’s inevitable that I get a little bit of sun but always discourage people from telling me I am tan. “No, not tan, don’t say that...” Sometimes I spend time worrying about death by Melanoma. But it seems I spend time worrying about most things. If there’s a way, I will worry.