Yesterday, I returned from a four day trip to Albuquerque, N.M. Upon first impression it was: barren, desolate, and brown. The city and surroundings felt worn out, old and tired. I was there because my eldest daughter was participating in the WAC indoor track championship for Seattle U. She’s a thrower; translation, she spins in a circle and throws a 20 pound metal ball off into the vector (indoor weight throw). It amazes, surprises and impresses me as I see this beautiful, strong, athletic young woman participate in this event. I think she got it from my Dad’s side of the family: generations upon generations of Scotsmen (and women) down our ancestral line. When I watch her I can’t help but think of the Edinburgh highland games that my parents took me to when I was 20. They tossed all kinds of things. I particularly felt my Dad’s presence with me on this trip. He passed away six years ago, Feb. 23, 2007. I found myself asking – has it really been six years? I could hear his voice in my head as she was throwing. He would have been cheering, and hollering, and muttering something like the following under his breath: “Come on there lassie, you can do this, heave that thing, summon up the Scottish generations and THROW!” He would have shown up in his kilt (because, after all, why wouldn’t you), and would have cared less about what anybody thought. He would have wandered about, introduced himself and said, “Have you seen my granddaughter? That’s her, over there, she’s a thrower”. He would be so proud and excited and would have side hugged me with his arm and said, “Oh how I love that girl!” And, with the high likelihood of a tear in his eye said, “Shasha, can you believe it? I remember when she was born.”
The heaviness, fatigue and weight of that first year of grief has lifted. I read a book through that time, “The Wilderness of Grief” by Alan D. Wolfelt, that has proven over and over to be a helpful companion for me on this journey. I found myself searching, even aching, for some sense of beauty in the desert environment of New Mexico. Could there be? Would I find it? I missed the water. I’m a west coast gal, born and raised, and I need water: a lake, river, ocean, something – it speaks to me. It was with absolute joy and delight that when I entered the expansive lobby of the Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque to come upon this:
And tucked away in an alcove on the side of the lobby, this: a tile waterfall of water that changed color with the light. I sat myself down on the comfy couch, ordered a mojito, watched the water and thought of my Dad.
On the anniversary of his passing I took my daughter and one of her best track buddies out for breakfast. It was wondertul to sit with them, listen, ask questions and engage in their lives. After dropping them off at the convention center (they had to meet their team and cheer them on) I went off on a drive, across part of the desert. It was intentional. Part of me wanted to go, and part of me didn’t. But the single most cellular part of me, the core of my soul, was asking for this time of quiet to drive. To remember my Dad, to drive across a desert landscape and explore. So I hopped into my rental car (my Dad would have had a really good chuckle). It was a Dodge Avenger, black, with a powerful engine and low ride. He loved cars. They didn’t have my ‘economy’ vehicle when I arrived at the airport and upgraded me to this: hilarious. And so I drove, for an hour, to Santa Fe. I looked out the window, flipped through some radio channels but nothing felt quite right, so I drove, in silence and let the road and the desert talk to me, and my Dad. I ventured into Old Town Santa Fe, wandered about, got something to eat, and remembered my Dad. It was hard, and I was sad, but it was good to be alone: with myself and my memories.
I called my Mom when I got back to the hotel. She misses my Dad, daily. She says that it hasn’t gotten any easier. I listened, and I thanked her for being at my home in Seattle, looking after my youngest. She told me she likes to be ‘busy’ on the anniversary of his passing and that this was a perfect time for her to be away. My heart aches for her, and she annoys me, all at the same time. We spent some time together before I left, and upon my return, and I listened. She headed home to Vancouver, B.C. early this afternoon and I, well I, was in need of some water and a walk.