booked flights. peeled potatoes.

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I did it. I booked my flight. I’m going to Florida for my 40th birthday. The trip that was going to be a gift from Carl, has instead been gifted by something I can only call grace.

Honestly, it’s been a rough day. It’s been a day of tears. Lots of them. Yesterday wasn’t all that easy either, but then the goodness started flowing in. A quickening occurred. My neighbor and his two strong friends hauled a trailer full of hay over from the barn so that it would be closer and easier for me to feed the horses. Another friend texted an offer to help me pay for the flight to Florida. At the exact same moment, someone else, who isn’t even on facebook and therefore doesn’t see my posts, texted me an image of a crystal ball in the hand of a woman, lit with sunlight and magic on the beach of an ocean. She wished me light and love. These three things happened simultaneously and, in that moment, the gaps of my doubt were brightly, divinely filled in.

Later that night, I went to celebrate Carl’s brother-in-law, Steve’s, birthday. It was a special celebration because his life, too, is a gift. He’s had to overcome his own hurdles. In my brain-fog, I almost forgot about the party. Then I didn’t want to go. Then I changed my mind. I went and was grateful that I did. It ended up being just what I needed. I came home to an email with a commitment from a new client, one that’s been hanging in the wings for the past couple weeks.

I’ve also been gifted with two places to stay–one a high-end Miami Beach hotel and the other my very own grotto near the ocean. I was offered friendship. A place to follow jungle roots or space to cry into the sea.

I went to bed last night feeling exhausted, amazed, almost overwhelmed by the speed and depth of it all. I had another dream about Carl. Another adventure. And his spirit was with me.

Tomorrow I’m leaving for North Dakota again. I will be finishing up loose ends, tending to remaining details. I leave early. There’s still lots to do before I leave and I can’t seem to get my energy to settle down enough to write. There is a part of me that dreads this particular trip out west–the finality of it. Carl won’t be there. His room is clean. Nothing is the same.

Constantly, this contradiction between grace and difficulty. I sometimes feel like I’m walking in a bog. The ground constantly moving, changing beneath me. There is death and beauty in every step.

On Thursday I peeled potatoes with Carl’s sisters. We peeled potatoes and talked and listened to soft music. I felt peace. We were sad when the job was done. I wished I could have peeled a thousand more potatoes because, for that time, the depth of my loss held still. This morning I went to listen to a friend sing at the Unitarian church. I had never been there before, but I braved my own unknowing and let myself in thru the front door. The words of her song, her voice, the acoustics of the guitar she played: her beauty condensed. So perfect that it caused cold, plump tears to streak the skin of my face. Reaching my chin and then holding there for a moment before disappearing into my lap. I couldn’t stop them. I sat in a room full of mostly strangers and, silently, with my eyes closed, I wept. That same friend who sang such a beautiful song will accompany on my journey tomorrow out west tomorrow. We don’t even know each other all that well and, yet, there couldn’t be a better person to be holding this space with me. These gifts, they just keep showing up.

But this trip to Florida…this is something. The way I feel him so close to me in all of this. I was supposed to go on this trip with Carl…and it seems that I still am. He is so entirely woven into all of it that, without a doubt, I know I am meant to go. I decided to rent a car and leave much of the trip unplanned. Going there to see where Carl leads me…even if it’s only to the ocean where I’ll probably have a good cry.

This photo, it is one I took in Spain, near the border of Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar…it’s a million lifetimes ago. I’m so heartbroken and perplexed by where this journey is taking me. But, Carl, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.

{originally published Nov 23. 2014}

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