The days are past me now, Valentines and Dave’s date of death (February 15). The second. Counting. Widowed.
I am breathing freely, feeling relieved in some ways, yet heavy in another. Not a burden of heaviness, a heart of heaviness, But it is all OK. It is not as heavy as an outsider might want to assign to me “because I am a widow, and therefore I must suffer.” No, this is not a suffering moment, but a heavy heart.
This morning on the windward side of Oahu, it is calm. The past nights since arrival have been increasingly noisy and blowing, with a stormy awakening on Saturday, February 15. I’ve had several small sleeps each night, with curtains blowing, doors rattling and surf pounding. As I lie in bed it is hard to tell if there is rainfall or just rustling of palm trees. But I like the windows open or the air would stagnate and the humidity dampen even more.
What a difference a year makes. Choosing to travel during Dave’s death week is right for me. I am challenging so much about who I am, where I’ve come from and what’s ahead. I do this from a context of our love, marriage, relationship and growing up. Because that’s what we did together really – grow up.
I am a changed person. Or perhaps I am a more defined person. I like this: a more defined person. Because over the past two years this has my grief work – to define me. The transformation through loss is the accepting not simply of Dave forever gone but the deep accepting of who I am on my own. The we-to-me is a powerful revelation. The opinions and influence of every day originate with me now. I am required to make and own my personal world. I recognize this is not a challenge everyone is willing to take on a a way through grief. For me it is working.
Traveling during the week of Valentine’s and Dave’s death date is to make and own my personal world. The week is especially exciting as I am here to help plan our daughter’s wedding. To spend time with her in looking at her future, our future, what we’ve learned since out time separated by an ocean… in the vernacular of travel credit cards: priceless.
To be able to measure the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual changes in my life first from year one and then years two to three is an exercise in tremendous gratitude. To do so as a measure of change which reflects deep satisfaction and confidence in life was unpredictable.
On Saturday, we took a predawn walk up Makapu’u Point Lighthouse trail to watch the sun rise. We were the first to arrive; no cars, no people. The winds were blowing. Rain threatened. There were no disposable ponchos to be bought at 5:30 in the morning! The Valentine’s Day full moon to light our way was hidden behind cloud cover. The hike the day before made my arthritic hips ache, and the leftover of my vestibular disorder added a feeling of drunken hangover. Balance in the dark is still difficult. I began with a limp, a sway and a determination.
Not far into the walk, the wind thinned the clouds and uncovered a beam of natural light enough to see the path in front of each step. The rock we wandered around was protection from the winds for the lower part of the ascension. We stopped briefly as needed. Time. Step by step.
At the top we were rewarded with a changing skyscape of color and cloud formations. I had forgotten the awakening and renewal that accompanies the light of day. The unspoken promise. A new day.
Afterwards, one more task awaited: to send Dave body surfing in the Pacific. I carried a small pouch of Dave’s ashes with us.
Dave loved his time in Australia probably most of all in life. As an college athletic swimmer, the ocean called him out to play. He spoke lovingly of being in the waves and body surfing. It seemed only proper to return him symbolically and physically in the only way we can for now. At Sandy Beach, a renowned body surfing area, Leah and I, witnessed by her fiancee Scott, sent Dave to catch the currents around the oceanic world. In a gesture that feels right and good, I am left with the bittersweet knowing of loss and release. On a second anniversary of his death, this is a time to give him back.
The birds are singing louder today. The air is the calmest of my days here. Geckos change with their surroundings. Sand crabs run from stick to hole, scurrying from the ocean foam. There is a rhythm on the beach that is timeless in the moment. Paradise is overcast, yet plenty warm to a Pacific Northwesterner. (And good enough to sport my vacationer’s sunburn!)