I learned to "quiet" myself. I, finally, after so long, had periods of time when I wasn't tormented by grief-not even a little. Those feelings returned when I came home. I felt Dad's presence within me all the time I was away, but I traveled very differently than we had when we were together, and to my surprise that was okay. It was part of the healing.
I was proud of myself for taking the pup that I love and he so loved, to enjoy the outdoors as he should. Dad would have been proud, too. I know because I could "see" the look on his face-his smile-his amusement, really. I was with him more on that trip than I had been since the day he died. I saw him at every turn not with the sadness of losing him but with the joy that I had known him. The rage and anger at the loss that I felt subsided and gave way to acceptance. The sadness came and went, but was a familiar, comforting feeling. It was cleansing to cry in nature; here, it is desperation and frustration.
I learned that I could live in 4 feet of space with very little "stuff". I loved the outdoors-not seeing another car or person for miles or sometimes days. The high point of a day might be finding a place to walk; a place for Jack to swim, and then sitting on a log or a rock and listening to the silence or eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I loved the cool breezes and the absence of bugs. I loved seeing things I'd never "noticed" before.
There was something satisfying about not being able to just jump in a car and go to a destination. The preparation and ritual of hitching up and feeling like a nomad was - can't find a word for it. Not knowing where I was going to sleep at night sometimes, was exciting. Unfortunately, age hampers ability at a certain point. Stay in good shape. I wish I had.
I liked being a spectator and seeing and doing new things. The dorymen. I could spend an unexpected afternoon watching cowboys with their herd or learning that cows aren't as dumb as I thought. The ferries at Sausalito. The thousands of boats. The golden hills of the headlands in Marin County. Watching the barges on the Mississippi. Crossing a wooden dock to get to an old cannery. Seeing Leavenworth, again, and the Wenatchee area. Finding Wisdom MT and the "Big Hole". The seals, the birds, the elk, the bison--they were all my entertainment, and I didn't need a remote to see them. I liked not knowing what was around the bend. I liked the adventure. It kept my mind busy.
I wasn't lonely even when I didn't talk to anyone for days. I liked not knowing what was going on in the world-the contamination of information that has become a part of everyone's life, it seems. There was always something to do. Sleeping near a river, sitting by the ocean, or walking in the woods was calming-I didn't feel so broken, any more. I learned to let go of anger and worry. I learned to live, again, and to be content just to be in my own skin in the surroundings that I chose to be in. I didn't need the clutter in my life.
I wish we had lived a simpler life and that I had been able to raise you kids without so much "stuff" so that you didn't have to search for the forest because the trees were in the way. It's not the ability to "see", it's the art of "noticing" that I wish for you.
I learned that it was okay to be different than Dad. I liked the way "I" traveled and even though it wasn't his cup of tea I think it could have been had he tried it. I had become so much a part of him that I had to learn to function as myself. I could only do that because either I let go or he let go...I don't know which.
There's so much more to it, but I'm not capable of writing it or expressing it. I have come to believe that peace is the one thing in life that we all need. I found it for a while, and once in a while, now, I drift back in memories and find it, again. I'd like, more than anything, for you to find it. All you need is a little trailer, a big truck, the first mile behind you, and the memory of your Dad to guide you.
I included this piece because I read it each day, and it helps.
WALK WITHIN YOU
If I be the first of us to die, Let grief not blacken long your sky.
Be bold yet modest in your grieving. There is a change but not a leaving.
For just as death is part of life, The dead live on forever in the living.
And all the gathered riches of our journey, The moments shared, the mysteries explored,
The steady layering of intimacy stored, The things that made us laugh or weep or sing,
The joy of sunlit snow or first unfurling of the spring, The wordless language of look and touch,
The knowing, Each giving and each taking,
These are not flowers that fade, Nor trees that fall and crumble,
Nor are they stone, For even stone cannot the wind and rain withstand
And mighty mountain peaks in time reduce to sand.
What we were, we are. What we had, we have.
A conjoined past imperishably present
So when you walk the woods where once we walked together
And scan in vain the dapple bank beside you for my shadow,
Or pause where we always did upon the hill to gaze across the land,
And spotting something, reach by habit for my hand,
And finding none, feel sorrow start to steal upon you,
Be still. Close your eyes. Breathe.
Listen for my footfall in your heart.
I am not gone but merely walk within you.
Find peace in your new life, son. You deserve happiness.