Black Cats & Josh Ritter

I’m having a frustrating week where I feel like I’m being continually tested, when I need (pretty please) reminders/signs to trust that it’s all going to be okay.

Instead, while waiting outside for a friend last night, a black cat pranced in front of my path with a dead mouse dangling from its creepy little mouth. WTF, Universe.

Here’s a Tiny Desk Concert by the incredible Josh Ritter, who I saw perform last night on a sun-soaked zoo esplanade. I love summer.

Zoo Tunes

Zoo Tunes

Moon-set at Fremont Peak Park

Moon-set at Fremont Peak Park

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The Knowing/Holding On

There was a night when I was there, ironically, just a couple weeks before his death, and I knew. I just knew. I had no idea how quickly it would all unravel, but a sixth sense deep in my being told me to hold onto that evening. To be very still and very present. To soak it in. That he wouldn’t be with us forever—and that that night held something special. I hated my sixth sense. I hoped it wasn’t true.

We had been to the pool earlier that day—him having to lounge in the shade, a port in his arm and all. (A visibly sick man supervising his playful family from the sidelines. He was supposed to be in the pool splashing around with us. How did any of this make sense??) Instead, he lay to the side with his friend Steve on the chaise lounges, as they checked World Cup scores on their iPads and dreamed up Caribbean catamaran trips that the two couples would take later that fall, after he was well. Oh, the plans that were made for “later,” after he “got well.”

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On the way home from the pool, he whipped us into the parking lot of a local shopping center, popping inside to pick up dinner—delicious bratwursts from a local delicatessen—his idea. He, much like my cousin, always makes things special, makes things fun (even in sickness, when he felt his very worst). They enjoy the good things in life, and they enjoy sharing that with others, too.

We ate out on the deck, a perfect June evening. He DJ’ed—Jack Johnson, Zack Brown Band, sharing fun facts and tidbits as he shuffled through catchy, toe-tapping songs (he always seemed to know at least a little bit about everything and everyone). He couldn’t really taste the delicious brats, his taste buds so dulled, so he piled on the hot sauce and extra seasoning, while Jen and I relished the flavorful tastes of a quintessential summer meal.

Our conversations were not groundbreaking or profound that night, yet they were enjoyable and flowing and, most of all, nearly normal. For a moment of blissful escapism, it all felt normal.

Last night in bed, many of the emblazoned images of my second Chicago visit of the summer rose to the surface out of nowhere, washing over me. They include vivid pictures that will likely stay with me forever, memories I dare not taint with words. They are moments so raw, so tender, so sad and yet, sometimes, so eerily, twistedly beautiful. Parents saying goodbye to their son. A young mom saying goodbye to her life love, the father of her four children. Scenes one should never need to witness. Scenes that just weren’t supposed to happen. But they did.

How does one navigate sadness? What can you do with such immense sadness? Some emotions get a boost from good cries or the reading of inspirational quotes, etc. etc, etc., but with sadness, it just sits. Until it passes. And it gradually visits less often. It seems there is no other way.

I am now so very grateful for that summer dinner out on the deck. When it felt like everything, even though it really wasn’t—maybe for a moment anyway—would maybe, just maybe, be okay.

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Synchronicity

Synchronicity is all up in my grill these days, and I’m digging it. Call it hokey, woo-woo, pure coincidence, whatever…but I love this stuff. I feel “tuned in” (which, believe me, is not always the case), and I’m feeling grateful for that.

Summer in Seattle is sailing along with biergarten reunions, country music-fueled, sunset boat rides, birthday cycle saloon beer tours, “secret” shows in barn-like spaces, beach bonfire concerts, canal runs, park sits and so much more, and I currently feel optimistically open to discovering what the rest of this sunny season might bring.

Here’s hoping your summers are full of goodness so far, too:)

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“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”~Charles de Lint

Mountain Medicine

I’ve been on (an unintentional) blogging hiatus these past weeks, and to be honest, I wouldn’t even know quite where to begin. Oh, the places I’ve been…my family has been (high, low, everywhere in between).

My words seem extraordinarily inadequate to capture the grief, the sorrow, the mourning, the suck-air-from-lungs sting—and equally insufficient to do justice to the in-between beauty, the all-encompassing love, the inexplicable wonder of it all.

So I will keep it simple for now. These are the dappled skies and blazing sunsets that worked to soothe my soul after one of the saddest weeks I’ve experienced—one in which we said goodbye to a man—a good man—gone far, far, far too soon.

These clouds, these rays—reminders that life goes on, and we must do our best to take it in with appropriate, absolute awe.

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“The goal of life is
to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe,
to match your nature with Nature.”
– Joseph Campbell