I’m staying at my dear friends’ flat in NY. They’re on the west coast so in their absence, I get to take particular note of the beautiful family photos that grace their book lined walls. They are a testament to the fact that this is a family who has cherished one another, celebrated all things, cared deeply for eachother’s souls as life has changed around them. The comfortable décor has conversation inviting places to plop in, cozy chairs in which to curl up and read. The goodness nurtured in their home extends to the world around them in large and small ways. They perform small kindnesses on a regular basis and are exceedingly generous to their pals. I know, I’m one of them.
All this has put me in a family frame of mind. Lying in the guest room bed I’m awakened most mornings by the patter of little feet running back and forth on the floor in the flat above. That soundtrack inspires a movie that plays in my mind’s eye. I see him (her?) on the imperative mission to, perhaps, chase the cat or bolt anew to retrieve his favorite blankie. I feel the glee of discovery in his lively gate and envy his parents in this stage of their lives, when their child’s containable adventures for the most part, succeed. When they delight in their child’s explorations at the beach. I mean really, is there anything better than watching your young child play at the water’s edge? I hope they are soaking up the balm of this chapter when they as parents can literally see around corners for their child, still be a shield to harsh realities whilst he roams with confidence fueled by innocence through his uninterrupted Universe.
My own son’s footsteps are out in the world now…his adventures are not contained. I cannot see around corners for him. Its terrifying. Thrilling too when his successes both big and small come. I again thank all that is holy to have been granted the supreme privilege of being a Mom. The doctors lie when they tell you the umbilical chord was cut. It never was, never will be.
I’m on a flight up the eastern seaboard over the remnants of a ferocious hurricane, the kind we’re seeing more of these days. Just as so many have been promising, the planet is changing in real time. Our time. Fortunately for me I’ve been afforded a window seat and I’m glued to the view. The pearl gray carpet of clouds beneath us is thick, angry with tiny knots and swirls, like soiled shorn, sheep’s wool. They’re like no others I’ve seen from these heights.
On the distant horizon monster shaped dragon clouds back lit by an electric orange sunset, lurch out of the gray blanket as if in final gasps before they sink back into their own hell.
I sit effortlessly traveling to my desired destination in dry, protected comfort. Yet there are fellow earthlings for all intents and purposes occupying the same space, suffering real trauma. Trauma from which I am spared. 30,000 feet directly below there are flooded towns, people in immediate need of rescue standing on their roofs, folks rowing away from their homes and all that’s in them scared, exhausted and facing an uncertain future.
As we bumpety bump along, life metaphors abound.
Would that in the midst of challenging times I would remember this. Elevate thought, seek the heavens, find the zen part that is traveling forward rather than stay stuck in the storm of life. Stay in but not of. Breathe. Keep my eye on the destination. Reset my compass as needed to stay on course.
Looking to the horizon and its dragons I know that monsters, monstrous thoughts, all that seems fearful in my past and future will sink into its native nothingness if I just keep to the journey. I need not go down with them. The sunset is a deeper orange now. Time moves quickly. There is not a moment of the now to waste.
As a young teen my parents made good friends with a couple who lived half way around the world from us. They too had teenaged children and the Mom’s hatched a plan for a combined and extended summer vacation in the south of France. Fortunately, once together us kids also all got along famously. As a young adult my new turned old friend had the exceedingly good sense to marry a spectacular woman, Jo, who became my soul sister of 40 years. She died today. It was expected, damn cancer charged into her body a year ago and after a valiant battle she has succumbed.
Jo and I too all our adult lives have lived half a planet away from eachother but each of our careers made it so that we were able to get together with enough frequency to remain on the inside track of one another’s lives with the added advantage of an objective view. We saw eachother through the early career growing pains of articulating how we were going to make our mark. We shared the longing for children and the painful uncertainties of managing to have our babies. We literally wept tears of joy for the other as we each, in turn, experienced the grandest privilege of all…becoming Mothers. We heard the burden of our husband’s infidelities and white knuckle fears of raising our babies without our mates’ financial support. (I’ll hasten to add that we each were blessed with husbands who loved their children fiercely and in spite of our carrying the financial burden and divorces, we enjoyed enduring and deep familial ties with the fathers of our children. That will be for another posting.)
For all our similarities and synchronicities Jo had something I do not…an unparalleled ferocity of joy. Gusto everyone who knew or even met her, admired.
She had big dreams, pioneering visions that included the success of everyone she loved. She tirelessly carried the psyche of family members over psychological chasms on a regular basis. She never let go, never lost hope, never blamed, never quit even when brutally betrayed.
We bolstered each other through hard times, laughed at menopause when it came. Coached eachother through countless chapters of reinvent. Talked through our ever evolving understanding of God. Shared our deepest secrets. Nothing needed translation. I never imagined I would be heading into this chapter of life without her.
The day after I heard she had been diagnosed I got on the plane and flew 12 hours to see her. As I was walking to her in the hospital room, the look on her face as she realized it was me is something I will never, not ever, forget. We knew the end was coming but what the hell, we were in the moment, we had eachother. I feel we are still in the moment. I still have her. She still has me. Party on darling, magnificent, irreplaceable Jo.
Folks working in my industry have a gypsy life and I’m no exception. Sometimes its to places you can’t wait to leave, others its to places you find yourself dreaming of living in, others are just plain dreamy…like now. I’m on a Caribbean island for a month. Great, group of co-workers and as all of us are first timers here, this impromptu family is embracing as much of the experience as work will allow for and with gusto. One of the things it has done is to unlock the inner child in all of us. We’re jumping off cliffs, hiking to crocodile lakes, scuba diving, toasting beautiful sunsets, dancing to island vibes after dinner but today was a high light…swimming w horses. I don’t know about you but its been on my bucket list for a long time. My ride was Man Face. Feisty, young, we first rode on a canopied jungle trail of impossible greens, hanging roots, leaves the size of dining tables and breathed in the richest oxygen I’ve probably ever inhaled. Cue the mosquitoes…but it was worth it. On this particular ride, it was just my guide and me. Heading back to the stable along the coastline he asked if I’d ever gone swimming w horses? “May we?” I asked and next I knew we had hung a sharp left into the Caribbean bath waters and were heading straight for the horizon. With little coaxing our horses trotted, then seemed take flight as their hooves left the ocean floor. Our bodies were now suspended afloat over our trusty steeds and we held onto their manes to stay in line over them. The power of Man Face was churning beneath me…he was in his element. Time expanded as I tried to let every second of the experience sink deeply into my DNA. The water was soft, there was lightening in the distance and soft rain bounced like diamonds on the ocean’s flat, pearl gray surface all around us. Absolute heaven. It was one of those moments where you think if it all ended, I’d die happy. I’ll sleep well tonight and with any luck dream of swimming with horses. I wish the same for you.
Well, will have used to be a blog virgin as by the end of this entry I no longer will be one. I have a friend, a gifted, successful writer who wrote the terrifying words “Don’t make me ask you again to start a blog.” He’d thrown down the glove, so here goes.
I’m a middle aged, American woman at a moment of reinvent. At this point in my life everyone is either dead or grown up…for better and worse my life is again mine to do with as I please. I’ve been married and divorced. I raised children I love more than life. I’ve buried my parents. I work now and then. I take adventures. I may or may not find a partner to share this chapter with. I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to friends. I’ve made great choices and more stupid ones than I can recall.
My intention is to share adventures and follies here as they happen, along with some remembrances, in hopes that some of them might resonate with you. Please tell me if they do. I have a modicum of celebrity in my chosen field…I suspect down the line I’ll draw the curtain on who I am. Not today. Hope to see you as I go down this road. Joy to all.