Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Trying to Be One of These

Sheep at Rest

After Joey died, I went mad. I went crazy with unbearable knowledge. I hid my heart in denial. I blocked out the truth while proceeding to take care of the pitiful details. I took care of my child's "emergency", without admitting to myself that he had actually died. I kept his death temporary in my thoughts, ever mindful to prepare for his return. His death--it still jolts me when I say it or write it, even after three years--the darkest words.  I did all the sad things the experts predict, but in the end, nothing changes the facts. Me: textbook bereaved mom, restless inside, scanning, searching, hungering for a resting place.

Bit by bit, tiny piece by tiny piece, over the past three years, I have allowed the truth of his goneness to sink in. I can sit with it longer than I used to, but I have to repeat it to myself to latch on to it. It's a progression of ideas inside. My mind travels along a well-rutted path now: It says, " he is gone, he DIED, his body died, his precious body with the beautiful eyes and brilliant hair, the long legs, the fluid walk, the smile, the laugh, GONE. But no, his soul is alive, he is somewhere in the universe, we are separate, but he is alive, he is with God, he is okay, where is he? what's he doing? what's he thinking?  Not mine to know. Why? I miss him, I want him back, I can't have him back. Endure. When I die I will see him,  what now? go forward, keep moving, my grandchildren need me. Endure. But how? With God's help, one step at a time."

It's noisy in my mind, but it's quieter than it used to be. My skin doesn't ache anymore. I don't want to
howl like a wolf or claw the walls anymore. I can breathe again most of the time. I carry on, and mostly cry when I'm alone.

For a long time, I couldn't take on much of anything. I auto-piloted my way through the day, and drowned out the silence of the night. For a long time, I felt betrayed by God. How could You? Why would You? I thought you were my friend.

But now I don't blame Him.  I understand.  It's this world. It's broken and shattered.  People break on the sharp pieces of it scattered along their paths. The evidence of that truth is every where, every day. Sharp glass and broken hearts.  Life and death and bleeding. And us too. Not spared.

Slowly I am moving in closer to God. He has been silent for three years, but a friend says that is the compassion of God, and I believe that now. He shares my grief. With grief, really there aren't any words, anyway. God is quiet but present, as the best friends are. He has been present all along.  
I can see that now.

Trying to rest in that. Like a sheep in a meadow by a river.

Psalm 23:1,2
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The King of the Hill

While hiking, we were quite content to make it to the top of this little peak. Happy to sit here and savor the beauty.

But not Cliff. Off he went, seeking higher ground. Jeri, not to be outdone, followed after him.

Over snowfields, they plodded forward.

Far from us, along the edge of this great cirque, carved by a glacier. Two little dots in a field of snow.

Till they arrived up here! Two little dots on the edge of the world. Gulp.

And a zooming closeup! There was no way up, but by a ladder, hanging perilously over a steep cliff.


As we were doing this...

They were doing THIS! Up to the top of another steep peak, with God's snowy footprint on the side.

Jeri had the good sense to come down. She inched down using a rope attached to the top of the hill, then side-stepped down the rest of the way. We were pretty much biting our nails observing all of this.

Cliff, so aptly named, stayed up at the top. King of the hill.


Then he cautiously lowered himself, via the rope.

Then cleverly slipped off his backpack...

and slid down to the bottom! Smart chap!

Jeri watched him slide into home base safely.

Then we start the hike down. Breathtaking, in a word.

This hiking team likes to live on the edge.

This dog, too. Apparently he lives in the village below, but hikes up the trails to pick up new friends.

Back at the lodge. Here's to good friends--Joey's revered Moose Drool Beer, and a fond farewell.
From here we are on our way to the airport. Trip over, but we got to visit another place our son loved so much, and leave some of his ashes there in a stream in Denali National Park. A bittersweet trip made sweeter by the company of Aidan and good friends.
We miss you, Cliff and Jeri.
Thanks for everything.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Up, Up and Away

This is a shot from our hotel room of the tram to the mountain top. Only 7 minutes up, but a whole new world.

On the tram, looking down toward the hotel and resort area.

More warning signs greet us at the top.

With that in mind, we head UP.

Leaving civilization for the adventure that lies above.

The village is so small now.

Near the top, seven glaciers.

And Aidan. He is near the top, too.

What a view. Where is Julie Andrews when you need her?

For once, I am above them all instead of pulling up the rear.

At the top of the ski-lift.

We make it to our little peak.

The view from on top of it.

The cleanest air, the whitest snow, the bluest sky. We savor this moment.

A close-up on the glacier spilling down  the slope.

Joe unpacks Joey's ukulele.

Strumming Joey's songs.

Aidan does the same.

We listen to the sound of perfection.

A moment you never want to end. 

Bears and Moose

With one big sweep of good fortune, we happened upon the Mt. Alyeska ski resort. It's a gorgeous hotel in a four seasons resort area. It took us about 12 seconds to park the RV, slap over our credit card, and get ourselves a couple of rooms with fresh white linens and steaming hot showers. You can feel our excitement in this lobby shot!

The recurring decorating theme in Alaska: bears and moose. It's just not right without it.

Aidan looks at a bronze outside the window. Almost looks real, right?!

Oh, and a rest-aurant. After showers and blow dryers and beverages served on a tray---then came really delicious fish. Cliff had the salmon, I had the halibut. We ate every juicy morsel.

Jeri poses under the aurora borealis. It's a winter-time phenomenon, so we had to be content with this.

The beautiful grounds of the hotel. This is late, about 10 pm. More midnight sun.

And the moose. The ultimate photo op. Cliff and Jeri --#1

The girls--#2

The Johnsons--#3

The mighty moose himself--#4

Aidan and Papa--#5

The adults--#6. Aidan took this shot. That's enough of the moose.

The bear awaits.

The bear hug maximus. As close as I ever want to get.

Cuz of this. Bears are vewwy scawwy.