The waves crash against the rocky coral, spilling into the natural rock baths as I watch from my cement block patio while the rain continues to relentlessly fall on beautiful Jamaica. My Rangeley Lakes ‘Relax’ tee shirt sticks a bit to my hot body, and I certainly don’t mean that in an attractive sense. Jamaica is generously lush and green with spectacular foliage covering every nook and cranny of its rugged coast, steep mountains, rain forests, sandy beach lands, and meandering, red dirt village lanes. I stare out across the grey, yet beautiful, wet landscape, and taste the salty, humid, sea air and the infusion of rich oxygen is almost palatable in my lungs. I love Jamaica. It is God’s breath re-breathed into Autumn, Amaya, and my atalexed lungs. I feel…almost…dare I say it, happy.
2020. It will be remembered in a myriad of hues, but likely, mostly dark and lonely shades. There has been the Corona 19 virus and the variations in themes of its true color therein. Personally, having seen and known much more virulent strains of bacteria and viruses, gives me pause. Be that as it may, its meaning and subsequent impact had run a distant second to my year from Hell. November 26, 2019 began what would be a life, mind, and spirit altering year for me, as well as the children God gave to Scott and I. I know the excruciating pain will never leave my heart, but will be subdued into bittersweetness as I and all of us who loved Scott Gordon so dearly emerge into a new world as altered beings. You have followed these chronicles through these endless months of irreconcilable heartbreak as you travelled with me through the loss of a human being so rare and beautiful, so eternally beloved, that I was unable to find meaning in a world without him. I lost my place in a community, and in the work of healing, that gave me joy, fulfillment, identity, meaning, purpose, and yes, acclaim. I watched from eyes darkened into a deep, marine colored blue, as my role and purpose as a mother and grandmother also came crashing down upon me. Stripped of all I had clung to for life, I repeatedly begged for death, and with a terminal diagnosis on the heels of Scott’s departing, I thought my desire had been granted. But God….how often we forget that imperative conjunction…but…
I reflect now on those infamous stages of grief I scoffed at repeatedly, only to realize I have experienced each of them most profoundly and almost in consecutive order, with some bleeding across the perimeters. Shock: This stage has remained with me these 11 months in varying degrees of profundity. Shock disallows you from being able to think and act clearly, logically, or wisely. It brings in a stupendously thick and high wall of dust, like a middle eastern Haboob, in which you cannot see, hear, or even breathe as the monstrous mountain of tornadic dirt invades every vulnerable orifice. You cough and choke, eyes burning from abrased corneas, and struggle to survive, not realizing you are doing so while you clearly believe in your erratic broken heart that you don’t want to. You say and do things you have absolutely no recollection of having said or done. Then you launch into anger. Even those of us who absolutely deny feeling angry, when it all comes home to roost, you find the egg under you labeled depression is full of this fiery, livid emotion. I hate anger, but nonetheless, there it was, stewing in a pot of rock soup. Even with my red faced, red haired Irish temper, I cool quickly, anger receding as suddenly as it arose. Oh it reappears frequently, don’t misunderstand, but it’s in my blood and my genes, and I suppose God can ultimately use it somehow for a beneficial purpose. Sadly, those who have not experienced the deepest grief possible on this earth may not understand or forgive you your significant lack of prowess, having suffered the consequences of your erratic decisions, but don’t despair. God is a God of forgiveness, healing, and restoration. Whether or not you receive it from human beings, rest assured you receive it from God and I am learning that He is all that truly matters, in the end. Do your best to reconcile, but prioritize reconciliation with God at the forefront. All else pales in eternity. Ah fellow sufferers, it is then you begin to bargain with God, the author of life.
“Please Lord, just let me see him once more! Please Lord, take me home so I can begin a joyous eternity with him! Please God, I just hate my life here without him. No one will truly miss me. Look at all my ruined relationships!” Yet He does not answer that prayer because our lives are not our own. He gave us life. He decides when we are ready for it to end on this earth. He decides when we can come home. I wasn’t ready. I had not yet done all He created me to do. He gave me visions and palatable moments with Scott. He answered my prayers, but still, I missed the point. So I fell into a deep, dank, dark, despairing depression. I was fatigued beyond words. I awoke at 4:30 each morning to gaze upon the bleak grey skies that reflected my heart. I could not seem to lift my head or body off the pillow. I cared nothing for my physical appearance. I over ate and under ate. I cried softly and continuously. Once again, I wanted to die daily. That was when God began to move the mountains; steep, impenetrable, craggy, mountains. Acceptance…the stage I fervently, viciously, defensively, rigidly refused to consider, was beginning to overshadow me like the waning dusk of summer dog days.
Like a blind man who begins to see shadows and colors reemerge, God brought us to Jamaica where the pulse and vibrancy of life simply cannot be ignored. It seeps into your being like water warming in a wetsuit. Mantras heretofore inapplicable begin to gain deeper meaning and explanations, begin to formulate previously unentertained. Even without the frequently proffered ‘weed’ from the Rastafarians, the truth of “Don’ worry, be happy” and “ Ya mon” and “Every little ting gonna be alright m’ lady” begins to resonate as true in your soul. It’s strange, really, how you discover the world is not so very big or so different as one might imagine. Things we think are important are really not, and we have to decide how we want to spend the precious time we may have here. Acceptance is not the same as happiness. That emotion continues to evade me. Acceptance is the intersection of a cognitive understanding of a situational state, and the hearts’ finally embracing of it as an unalterable fact. Acceptance almost feels like a toddler must feel when they have what they most desire taken from them and they implode into a raging, tearful, begging, illogical heap on the floor. It seems that they grow more and more weary of it, like the ever-ready bunny’s battering running out, slowly sitting up, wiping their runny noses and wet cheeks with their sleeve, looking around them and realizing that it was all for naught. It did not change the outcome and they wearily accept that.
So we grudgingly return to the states which are barely recognizable as the good old US of A that I grew up in. Many make fun of and scornfully deride the culture of the 1950’s into which I was born, but everything seemed so much prettier and happier then. I wish I could bring home the mellow “one love” of the Jamaicans, but perhaps at least I can try to be one ‘Jamaican’ to others here. It’s dark, wet, and cold in the Pacific Northwest when we return and the contrast is like diving into a tub of ice from a toasty 104 degree hot tub. It is, I must admit, a bit depressing. That and, of course, the impending holiday of Thanksgiving that will mark the one year anniversary, November 26, 2019, when Scott died. We will be among dear extended family, hosted by my heroes and earthy saviors, Dan and Jan, without whom I most certainly could not have come even this far, and we will all miss someone who would be watching football with the passionate emotions this sport somehow frees in men, and returning to the table for just a little more turkey and sweet potato casserole. We’ll make our little hats and replay the early events of our history, and thank God He has blessed us in so many ways we most certainly don’t deserve. And then I’ll come home, sit by the fire alone, and recollect all my sweet Thanksgivings with you.