When I started this blog a few years ago I thought it would be about writing. That I would share my journey as I learned and struggled with stories and words. Those early posts are stilted and uncomfortable when I read them now.

Slowly, other stories started filtering onto the page in spite of myself. I struggled to find the balance, to keep the focus on writing, to not turn a public forum into a personal diary. But when I gave up trying to be writerly and professional and just started chatting, my friends gathered around.

I’ve struggled for almost a year to not turn this blog into a journey of grief. I come here and chat with friends, but as I’m sure you’ve noticed, some stories sink back into loss.

We near the first year anniversary of our Sam’s death and here I am, laying grief down in words again.

I struggle with wondering what he was doing a year ago today. Living his life fully, dealing with good and bad, stress and joy, friends and work, loving his family, just like we all do. And of course in his case, living fully as a river spirit. He knew what he did was dangerous but I doubt he had premonitions or hesitations or doubt in those last days.

jennie aug 2010 037

I struggle with thoughts about how I would live my life if I knew I had only days. We all ask ourselves that question at some point. But seriously, pause for a minute, move past the cliché of that question, and think about it.

I struggle with how to be around those who love him. Not ‘loved’ him. Their love for him didn’t end when he died. I want to dive deep into that dark well of grief with them, and yet life is all around us. We laugh and share and love each other’s company. And if in the midst of that, we fall into silence, or tears suddenly rise, it’s not awkward because we see and we know and we feel. There’s complete freedom in their company.

And so we look warily at the coming date knowing it is going to be so incredibly hard. And yet there will be a river float and once again all the kayaks will be bright flowers on the water. Afterwards there will be food and laughter, family and friends, in our mountains.

And stories.

I’ve never struggled in the safe cup of stories.

lookout point 007


I Remember Her

Fifty years ago this month my young life was in upheaval. A man in the house taking on the role of father. Two teenagers taking on the roles of elder sisters, releasing me from the responsibility of being the oldest. A new house to hold all of us. A new school.

lisa 6th birthday

I remember that time and I remember the stories but I think back now and wonder who she was.

Did I know her?

She wrote behind closed doors. She was painfully shy and blushed beet red and knew she was ugly and didn’t know how to fit in.

Thirty years ago there was another major upheaval. Siblings gone, parents retired, a move to the woods.

Did I know her?

She had a little more confidence but she still wrote in secret, this time by kerosene lantern. She had a clear vision of who she was going to be – an old hermit living alone in the woods with her books and stories and dogs. And when she walked down the narrow track through the overgrown spot in the forest that would be her home, she absolutely knew with a deep certainty that this was where she was meant to be. She spent many hours wandering the woods with field guides.

lisa with white bear & chickens

That rooster – Little Bear – finished his hatching in my bra. Thought I was his mother.

I remember her.

Twenty years ago she was a wife and mother and still living in the woods.

Did I know her?

Her confidence level was higher still because she was held up by those who believed in her. On their wings she found the courage to share those stories that filled her with their reality. She raced out on fire engines and aid cars. She left a job after years to try something completely new. She envied her friends, those strong women she dreamed of emulating. Learning how to be a mother, realizing that she could still be a hermit with two kindred spirits.

lincoln city jan 06 009

I remember her.

I wonder sometimes where those earlier versions went because there are days when they are strangers and the memories seem to belong to someone else.

So, here she is. Do I know her in this moment, as she slips into the robes of, dare I say, becoming a crone? Let’s not. Let’s say instead, becoming a wise woman. Hopefully.

Will I remember her in the years to come?

I’ll remember some stories, and trust those I love to remember more for me.

Maybe some stories will even have endings finally, like that pesky question – who really killed the goldfish by putting pennies in the bowl?

steven consoling me over something i was mad about

The Turning of Days

Well, it’s here. 2018 has thankfully ended. Maybe 2019 will be better. But I’m not sure what is meant by ‘better’. Some things will never be better, like the loss of Sam this year. But maybe, even if some things don’t ‘get better’ other things will bring us moments of happiness. I’m not looking for joy, but we could sure all use some smiles. Maybe some laughter if we’re lucky.

The year has been hard for many friends and family. I hope the year has also included some moments of peace and circles of love. I hope those I care for found hugs when they needed it, like I did. I hope they found someone to wipe their tears and hold them up when they couldn’t stand on their own.

For those who had a wonderful 2018, I hope you keep that joy and find it increased in 2019. Thank you for taking that joy of yours and spreading it around, and allowing others to feel its warmth.

I’m going to try and find joy in 2019. I’m not too worried though. Because if I can’t find it on my own, I know those in my circle of life will share and I will bask in those moments like a tiny Twinflower in the woodland floor when a beam of sunlight makes it through the forest canopy.

There are so many ‘Happy New Year’s’ being voiced right now and I appreciate the sentiment behind the words. But this, found on the Facebook site ‘Contemplative Monk’ resonates with me so I’m going to share it here for its wisdom.

‘The old year is worn and tired. Time now to kiss it goodbye. Take with you its wisdom – the authority and the power of all you have learned. Remember the past year with love, but let go of its despair. Live the year that lies ahead with fresh energy and hope. Be strong, have courage. It is time now for something new.’

What is new ahead of us in 2019? Obviously I have no idea, but the sun is out melting the snow, ice is now water dripping from the tree branches, and change is in the cold and brilliant air. So let’s step out and see what we find.

haybrook road 033