Home on the Pennsylvania turnpike? Swimming with the Orcas? Where…

Bob at Lime Kiln Lighthouse on San Juan Island says he has never seen anyone reactionless the first time they see a whale. Some emotion bubbles up whether it’s a laugh, tears or a frequently a joyful scream. In his view, not a lot unites us humans as much as seeing these magnificent creatures. Today, I hope to find out for myself. The 3 pods that live off of San Juan island are usually somewhere to be found. All sorts of regulations are in place to protect these creatures but typically the courageous captains can find them during summer season. Today, we will head out with 30 other souls hoping for a peak.

Bob shared a poem by a student of his as she beautifully described her first Orca siting and subsequent life-altering shift. Never the same again, she was. My ears perked up at this. An experience that changes you forever? Sign me up. Pronto.

Learning of my uncles death Saturday morning, then reading more headlines of the sad news in Colorado, I began my day in a funk. Yes, I have always been sensitive, yes, I feel deeply, yes, I dance with my darkness – and, yes, I do believe that those who have been through recent trauma may be more easily re-traumatized by traumatic events. You can tell by my overuse of the word “trauma”. Feeling thin-skinned and questioning this big scary world already, I felt even thinner skinned. How can we make sense of all of this? Yes, we know people die. People get sick, bad things happen, tragedy strikes. We don’t expect to go to the movies and not come back, however.

This tragedy brings the question of how to mourn my loss in the face of much bigger losses across the state – and world (or course). And, then my uncle took his last breath and now our family mourns. Where does losing a home fit into all of this? Do I have a right to still cry for my loss? We have all heard that pain is relative. This is an attempt to ease the crap we lay on ourselves in finding our own way through mourning.

Yesterday, David and I spent some time looking at rentals in the Seattle area. This was one of the many plans being floated as a temporary solution for November and December as David’s work continues to demand his presence (and yes, we realize that’s not the best time to be in Seattle…). It sounded like a fun option. Picturing the perfect quaint little cottage close enough to David’s work to make sense with a fenced yard for our two big dogs is one thing, finding it another entirely. The potential commute lengthened and the stress mounted. David begged off first. It wasn’t fun anymore. The romance didn’t fit the reality. Our combined desire was to go home.

It used to be that we would travel to amazing places, dip our toe in the water of a lifestyle, trying it on, often spending an afternoon with a realtor. After finding our mountain paradise, we knew nothing really compared. We had it all. Views, privacy, beauty, a lovely home, space for the dogs and close to amenities. We were truly blessed – and we knew it. When we lived in Florida, I used to fly back home after having been in West and mourn the open spaces I was leaving. Returning from vacation brought up a deep sadness of not having a place that I adored.

We are back there again. To what am I returning home to? What is home? I broke into song last night, channeling classic Billy Joel, crooning to David:

Home can be the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Indiana’s early morning dew
High up in the hills of California
Home is just another word for you
Well I never had a place that I could call my very own
That’s all right, my love, ’cause you’re my home

Besides that he absolutely loves it when I sing to him (not), my rocky melody lifted my spirits – and I belted as much as I could remember. I hummed where I couldn’t remember, repeated what I did, until the words sunk in. He even smiled.

Verdict: one day at a time. One month at a time. In two weeks we will be in Florida beginning a month long vacation odyssey. Unfortunately due to our inability to get everything done we may work a bit. But we will get in a different rhythm. We will settle internally in a way that this brief weekend jaunt whispered.

Hopefully Colorado can get some breathing room too. Hopefully tragedy will steer clear of our fine state for a bit. Hopefully the dust will settle, smoke will clear, rain will come and justice will be served.

One day we will have a home again. And, hopefully we won’t lose it again. We will sail the warm waters of the Caribbean and feel the good fortune of a lifestyle that supports this. I will still cry for all that is lost. I will mourn with the rest of Colorado. I will mourn my dear uncle with the rest of the family. I will miss my down slippers, the creak of the stairs as I ascended to my room, the comfort of my bed that I can’t seem to duplicate anywhere, the wind through the trees that used to lull me to sleep and the feeling of home that happens between four walls you know are your own.

Maybe the splash of an Orca will transmit a magic potion and alter me forever.

Maybe not.

  • Dotty Westby
    Posted at 03:28h, 26 July

    The magic of your words takes me to places I have not been. Thank you so much for your skill and heartfelt ability to express what loss and pain of loss mean. Thank you…

  • Sandy Golnick
    Posted at 18:07h, 31 July

    I agree that home is with the one you love. We’ve just returned from 9 days in Cabo and are experiencing again the joy of being “at home”. I truly understand your loss and felt myself experiencing the air, the breeze, the warmth of “home”.

    I know your upcoming trip will support your healing process and we will dream with you as you sail along. May the breeze fill you with joy, peace and freedom. xx