A Time to Live

What an emotional week. Sunday through Saturday of the previous week was the first major trip out into the world where we took care of some important life events while also breaking free of the clutches of the pandemic for just a little while. Our travels took us up Interstate 5 through Oregon to Portland for a memorial for the kid with family and friends, over to the coast to spread his ashes where his dad’ were also spread, then back down to southern Oregon for the funeral of one of my closest friends, then spent some time with my sisters, and then back home by the Fourth of July. Making for a whirlwind tour of emotions and experiences that I needed to spend a little time here on the blog getting sorted out.

First off, this was our first major trip out of the house since COVID kicked in. It was strange to be on the road again. I had taken a trip to Seattle right after the kid passed away, and we had driven to the beach and to the mountains once or twice, but we hadn’t done anything this major since February of 2020-—so, 16 months. We packed all of our own food and ate in parks and rest areas, or our hotel rooms, and engaged with people indoors only when required. It was both a relief a well an anxiety inducing experience to make our way up Interstate 5 through Oregon, and back down again after being at home so much. I would say overall it was a relief to break free of the hold lock down had on us, but also reminded me how lucky we are to have a good job, home, and be able to eat and live as we do in Oakland, CA. While I grew up in Oregon and have both good and bad memories of growing up there, I am definitely a California kid these day, and I am happy to be back home in the Bay Area.

Second, this was Poppy’s first major trip anywhere. We were worried about her ability to pee and poo on the road as she has never peed away from home on any of our day trips, but once she got going she figured things out quick. She definitely had anxiety about being in the car for so long, and visiting new place with so many unfamiliar smells, but eventually she found her groove. She began to really like each new hotel we experienced, and loved sniffing every corner of the room and napping on the beds. She loved all the parks we visited and had a blast on the Oregon coast, experiencing her first off leash freedom on a sprawling beach where she got to run as far and fast as she wanted. By the end of the trip she was a pro, and we dubbed her the adventure dog! I was skeptical that she would be a good travel dog when we left, but now I am eager to take more weekend trips with her around the West Coat, and I am very curious to see how he responds to the different woods, rivers, lakes, mountain, and other places I have planned for her.

One of the central purpose of this trip was to spread the kid’s ashes on the coast where his dad’s ashes are also spread. I wrote a separate post on setting the kid free on the Drone Recovery blog, but this trip marked an important milestone for us in moving on from his death. In Portland we had a memorial in a park with friends and family where we spent the afternoon telling stories about him, and the next day we headed to Strawberry Hill on the Oregon Coast to spread his ashes amongst the waves and rocks. It was so emotional. For me, it was stunning to watch Audrey do this. It is something I will never forget for the rest of my days. Watching a mother say goodbye to her son by spreading his ashes in the same place they had spread the ashes of his father was something I never thought I would have to witness, and was left speechless by her strength in being able to do it. She didn’t just do it, she did it with confidence and purpose, demonstrating a real intent to live life, even after it has handed you so much pain. As I write these posts about our experience I realize the gravity of this moment, and realize the importance of it in helping us get through this moment in time, but also allow us to move forward with our lives.

Another reason for our trip was to go to the funeral for a friend of mine in Southern Oregon. Amy has been my friend for over 25 years, and was one of the friends I had been through so much with that it crushed my heart when she passed. Amy left behind her man who is also my very close friend, as well as three amazing children. We spent a warm afternoon saying goodbye to Amy with a bunch of old friends in Selma, Oregon. I was reminded of how hard it is to make friends like Amy at my age, and how I can’t afford to lose many more friends like this. I saw friends I haven’t seen in over 20 years at her memorial, swapping old stories about our time with Amy and each other. I got to stop and see Amy during my trip back down last year after cleaning up the kid’s apartment–she was sick from her cancer treatments, but I was able to tell her that I loved her. Her memorial was emotional but very positive. Lot of love for her, and for how lucky we all are for having known her. It was very much a reminder for me of how important it is for me to stop in and see the people that matter to me, because you don’t know when they won’t be there anymore, and you just can’t be quite sure how many more days we have left on this beautiful earth. I love and miss you Amy, and will make sure I check in on Geoff from time to time to make sure everyone is OK.

After the memorials and before we left Oregon we stopped at my younger sister’s house to meet with all three of my other sisters. I had seen my two sisters last year as I rolled through Oregon after the kid’s death, but I haven’t seen the other for a couple of years. I miss them all, and it was great to see them. The highlight of the stop was being able to say hello to my niece Maggie who happen to have been born the week before. I got to hold little precious Maggie, which warmed my hard after such an emotional week. As I studied her perfect little face, toes, and finger I was reminded of the full circle of all of this, offering a counter balance to all of the death I have been witness to recently. Life is really a powerful thing. It was a really hard week, but looking at little Maggie, and thinking about how much love and joy my sister, her husband, and Maggie will have helps lighten the load on my heart. For me, it really pointed the needle forward for me, and rather than dwelling for too long on the past, I need to take what I’ve experienced and focus on forward motion into the future.

The underlying message for me from our week was about focusing on forward motion, and this being a time to live. Oregon holds a lot of pain and sadness for me. It also holds a lot of memories that have contributed to who I am today. I have spent the last five years processing much of this, which seemed to come to a head with the pandemic, and all signs for me point to me continuing to learn from everything, but focus 90% on the future, and 10% learning from my past. I learn a lot by studying my past, but it also tends to weigh me down and hold me back if I spend too much time dwelling, and everything about the memorials of the previous week and my experience in Oregon tells me that I need to focus on living and manifesting the next 50 years of my life. Everything in my past worked overtime to make sure I knew that I wouldn’t live beyond 30 years of age, and now that I have, while also losing so many others, it is pretty clear to me that I am not just being challenged–I am being challenged while also being provided a blank canvas to paint any picture I want. I am not going to ignore this opportunity, and will fully embrace this as a time to live.