Day 66: Fellowship with Logs

I slept like a log which may have had a great deal to do with traipsing to different beaches yesterday, getting a sense of which one would be the place my brother would best like his ashes to float to sea.  I learned the high tide at Maverick’s is at 3:30 PM on Friday, the solstice, the longest day of the year. We will gather, and as the tide goes out, wade out into the water, and set or toss the ashes into the outgoing waves as though they are seals and otters released back into the wild.

I’m a bit volatile these days.  I know it’s about grief, the weight of grief which sinks and rises like a bird in flight. Happy, sad, happy, sad, as I look to balance like a log left on the beach by high tides and storms.

When I found Maverick’s Beach – not on the beaten path I learned – I looked for a sign it was the spot.  Three pelicans flew overhead – mother, father, brother. Then, I found a heart rock. I sat and learned it was a pelican conference center.  The tide was low. I felt the convergence of water and sand.

Then I went to a more private, local beach.  The sand was silk. A harbor seal floated along the coast.

I’m leaving Friday open as to plan.  I know I go to the airport and meet my niece Kate, flying in from Boston, and her mother, flying in from Hartford, through Chicago.  Then, we go over the hill to the ocean where we have a place to stay and will meet people coming from north, south, and east. Nobody is sailing in from the West, and that makes sense, since that’s where we go when we come to final rest, and for now, I’m still here.   Like Ram Dass, well, not quite like him, since he’s more evolved, but I am still here, open to change and waves, even as I appreciate the stillness of a driftwood log when it’s up above the reach of the waves for now.

Heart Rock resting on a marvelous log at Maverick’s Beach

Bench on the Way to Maverick’s

Pelicans Overhead

Maverick’s without the Winter Swells – soft summer touch

A delightful beach friend – a preserve

A fence of driftwood – how I feel these days – loose, discombobulated and somehow still standing as I lean against family and friends

Day 65: Ripening

My brother passed away at the age of 65 and this is the 65th day since he passed.  I wake at 3 and rise. The Strawberry moon is hidden in fog. I meditate and what comes is my own transition as we move from spring to summer, as I honor my own maturing process and ripen.

Today my friend Terry and I are meeting along the coast near Half Moon Bay.  We’re going to explore the beaches in the area. My brother was a surfer and loved the ocean as do I.  I brought back half of his ashes from CT. and on Friday a group of us are gathering to spread his ashes in the surf.  He was an East coast-West coast kind of guy, so ashes spread on both coasts feels right.

A gardenia from my yard scents our home

Day 64: Inner Pole-Vaulting

Yesterday I was talking to my son about the weight of grief I feel with my brother’s passing.  I know it’s related to him and also to all passings. It’s the weight of knowing life is finite.

I was lying in bed this morning listening to birds singing.  I don’t know if there are more this year or if I’m more aware of noticing as I’m grateful for the preciousness of blood moving, marrow living, breath swaying.

Lying there, I found myself doing inner pole-vaults, little ones, but powerful – running and jumping in my cells, or maybe it was imagination, but it was fun.  I felt the lift. I remember when my brother spoke of “rodeo snails”. I loved the image of snails on tiny bucking horses waving tiny hats in the air.  I felt the lift when he said it, and I feel the lift now, the lift of a horse on a carousel, the lift of a smile, as I rise and swing on inner pole-vaults.

We all know the Beatles song, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four?  Ho!”

Well, here I am sixty-four days after his passing, still feeling grief, still needing to be fed, and so I remember when I was 15 and the Beatles were first on the Ed Sullivan show.  My best friend and family gathered around the TV in 1964 to watch four youngsters sing, and young girls scream.

My father always wanted to give me everything, so he went out the next day and returned home and proudly handed me an album he’d purchased. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was the Beetles, and not the Beatles, and the difference was profound. The point is that intent counts, and I still carry that memory and lift it in the air, a gold medal for my heart, and I keep on jumping, my pole, a star.

Vaulting with the Guidance of the North Star

Day 63: Wonder and Curiosity

I rise and look out at the trees.  It’s cold and the heater is running.  I sit with the concluding words of Mary Oliver’s poem “Today”.

Stillness.  Out of the doors

Into the temple

Contemplating the branches of an Ash tree, I wonder about the curves, the rise, dip, and reach.  I see a woodpecker approach first one part of the trunk and offer a few pecks, and then another part, peck, peck, and then fly off.  

The May National Geographic has an article on a study scanning the craniums of cosmonauts before and after six months in space. Scientists found that “their gray matter – responsible for things like muscle control, memory, and sensory perception became compressed by an increase in the cerebrospinal fluid that cushions it”.  Sitting here on earth, I nudge my gray matter to expand and receive a massage from the fluid surrounding it. I suggest we make tender waves.

And speaking of waves, though I prefer my ashes be scattered in the temple of ocean waves, I learn I have options. My ashes could be made into a diamond, or a company called And Vinyly could make them into a custom-made vinyl record. Who knew there are ways to continue in somewhat permanent form even after death.

It’s been sixty-three days since my brother passed and I miss him.  The grief is deep and maybe that’s why the woodpecker and cerebrospinal fluid intrigue me right now.  How do I peck at and cushion grief?

Years ago, when my children were young, I read A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech.  He writes of how children enter school as question marks and come out periods.  I want to stay a question mark. When I die, I’ll become a period, well, an ashy one, but right now, I want to keep questioning and learning.  I’m inspired by Leonardo da Vinci. I may not have his genius, but I can keep looking and asking, delving, pecking, probing, waving, and receiving.

In Ursula le Guin’s book Left Hand of Darkness, she asks if we lived on a planet where we never saw anything fly, would it occur to us to want to fly.  I have no answers but I find myself feeling my gray matter expand to play with the fluid that surrounds it as though it were a branch looking to curve, or a trunk calling “come” to a beak.

Day 62: Love and Kindness

Yesterday I spoke with a woman who after her best friend died, her four year old daughter saw the woman who had passed planting seeds in their yard.  The mother explained to her daughter that couldn’t be so, but summer came and their yard was blooming with thick-stemmed sunflowers, the flowers her friend loved most.

Years ago I had a tiny basket that held three tiny foil-wrapped chocolate eggs.  It sat on our wall system near a sliding glass door. One day I returned, and there were three watermelon seeds filling the basket.  The colorful eggs were gone with a gift in exchange.

I can imagine a blue jay or crow came in and made the exchange, a fair exchange for sure, and this with the sunflowers is different, and yet, there’s something about the surprise in it, the joy, that lifts my heart on this day of fog.

What moves beyond the veil?

This morning I spoke with my son.  Baby in the womb is moving along and my son told me of the many decisions to be made.  Yesterday I was with two women in their forties, who were speaking of how overwhelmed they feel with lists of things to do, with obligations, and “shoulds”.  We discussed whether it is a cliche to say that some lives are so over-scheduled that a person in the ICU appreciates the time with nothing to do.

I find myself wanting to sit and reflect, to be the still lake into which people look to find moments of peace.  I want to be the mud through which the lotus rises. I want to be an example what it is to know enough.

My brother passed 62 days ago.  Our father viewed life as play. I feel them both  waving wands over me, wands sparkling and spraying bubbles of love and kindness, contentment, acceptance, joy, and play.

I’m reminded that in fourth grade, I was the fairy in the play Sleeping Beauty who waved a wand and said, ”I give you kindness.”

I want to wave a wand of kindness over a world that seems shaken with division and fear.  I trust there is a place where seeds are planted and placed, circulating love and kindness between the folds of the veil.  Children can see them, and so can we, when we allow ourselves to be like a child, open to the seams.

Scarab knows – ask Carl Jung

Day 61: Flexibility

I continue reading the Kathryn Geurts study of the Anlo-Ewe-speaking people in southeastern Ghana.  When the children are born, they are ritually bathed, and their legs and arms are stretched and pressed at the ankles and knees.  The idea is that flexibility in the body is flexibility and adaptability in life. It’s a way of living imprinted on the newborn child in the presence of the tribe.  

Entranced, I sit here moving, massaging, bending, and stretching my elbows and knees. I stir my passage and play with waves. I incubate, hover, and reach.

Fog has blown in like the wind in a fairy tale.   I’m reading today at The Hivery from my book, Airing Out the Fairy Tale.  I went through the book to choose what might most entice and stimulate, stir the elbows and knees of my audience and me.

The section on the Yaks is a given, as well as the shower scene, so I’m sitting here, both in Nepal and the past, and in my home and the present.  My heart reveres companionship shared.

It’s been 61 days since my brother passed.  Grief is there but it’s more like a flag waving in the fog, aired in the wind.   That’s the feeling today.

Another book has been recommended and I’ll begin reading it later today. The book is, It’s Okay that You’re Not Okay and Meeting Grief in a Culture that Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine and Mark Nepo.  My friend who counsels with hospice feels it’s the best book on grief she’s come across. I look forward to reading it. Meanwhile the fog invites me to swim beneath.

Dive In and Flesh Fog

Day 60: Awareness

It’s sixty days since my brother’s passing.  What’s here for me now?

I ruminate. There are sixty seconds in a minute, and sixty minutes in an hour.  Has his passing led me to a deeper knowing of the passage of time?

I know I’m pounded with desire for each second and minute to be fully utilized and absorbed.  I’m super-sensitive, as though my skin is laid bare, my guts seen in their vulnerability and a churning need to know and connect.  

This morning I was outside watering, and the hose kept kinking. I had to unkink it so the water could flow. Is that what happens when we don’t allow ourselves to fully feel what is true for us right now?

Last night, it was still hot.  I sat outside with the increasing moon and felt the night as I listened to the sounds of creatures moving around, nuzzling as they settled, or perhaps just venturing out.  A range of critters dwell here, and there’s much going on around me that I don’t always see, hear, smell, taste, touch. I don’t always allow myself to sink into the entry and exit, the inner and outer landscape I inhabit and share.

I read yesterday that women who live with greenery have longer lives.  I’m surrounded with green, embraced, though a few of my plants took a hit with the heat, and I was out early this morning cutting off roses, geraniums, and lavender flowers that were hanging limp.  I was trying to be generous with watering but must have slipped, and then last Monday I found a tick on my chest. I was in the shower and brushed it off, but still seeing a bump a week later, went to the doctor yesterday.

I learned that black ticks which I thought didn’t carry Lyme disease and smaller brown ones which do, look the same once they’ve settled into our skin to suck.  Therefore, I’m on antibiotics just in case. The doctor said it can sometimes take five to ten years for Lyme Disease to show up so why risk it. I agree. I’m reducing my willingness for risk these days. I want more days and nights, more phases of the moon, more playing with balance and light.  

My brother had Lyme Disease about fifteen years ago, and because it wasn’t recognized and diagnosed soon enough, he almost died.  I’m happy to be on antibiotics and I see that means no sun, which is true for me anyway, with my fair skin, but I forget, and now I will be more diligent for the next two weeks.

It’s cooler today and as I was outside with my plant friends, I thought of how we all have to adjust, each moment, hour and day.  One constant is change. My plants need me to offer water. And I need support from friends.

I’m with the dynamics of friendship these days.  What is it to be a friend to ourselves, to others, to the earth?

Balancing on the question of friendship,  I watched a Ted Talk by Pat Samples. She speaks of using our body for guidance and a bodywork session where she got in touch with the loss of her father.  

Rosen sessions allowed me to cry and release the passing of my father in an accident when I was 19.  We can change our lives, no matter what our age. We can release and unkink traumas of our past. There we live engaged, evolving the seconds that are our life.

I suggest you watch and participate in Pat’s Talk.

Pat Samples on reading the library we are.

Outside my doctor’s office yesterday –