I realize it’s been a while since I’ve posted; have you missed me?! This morning I was thinking about what I wanted to write, to get back into posting here, and I stumbled upon this piece I had written at the end of October after returning home from a weekend I spent with my siblings in Northern Minnesota. The piece was nearly done – literally about one sentence away from being complete (maybe two)! So I finished it up and am posting it now. It feels good to be back.
My brother, sister, and I spent a long weekend up the North Shore of Lake Superior at the end of October. This is the third time we’ve gone to this house, right on the lake. The first time was in August of 2011. Mark, Mom, and Lynn’s dog Sadie were with us then. The house has a gazebo bedroom built right on the rocks of Lake Superior. It’s a gorgeous gazebo that the owners use as an extra bedroom. That first weekend, Mark and I spent the first night in the gazebo. The next night it was Larry; the last night it was Lynn. We all spent time down by the gazebo, sitting outside on the chairs right on the rocks of Lake Superior during the day. It was an awesome place to watch the sun rise over the lake; stunning, actually.
Last spring as Mom was dying, Lynn and Larry had decided that they would like to go again to the same place; this time in October. Summer wasn’t going to work for Larry, as he already had travel plans in place, and he, Lynn, and Mom often got together for a long weekend in the fall so Larry could travel at a time different than the holidays. I didn’t think I would be able to join them, as I was just going to be going back to work in September after an 8-month leave of absence; could I really afford to be gone almost a week after being back just six weeks or so?. But when Mom died, I wanted to be there with them; I needed to be there with them. We had hoped Mark would be able to join us, but he had a Science Saturday set up for high schoolers that same weekend, so it wasn’t going to work for him. Lynn’s dog Sadie had to be put down in June, just two months after Mom died, so last year it was just the three of us siblings. The weekend took place at just over the six-month mark of losing our mom; three months after selling her condo and getting rid of/storing her stuff in our homes; three months after Lynn lost her canine companion Sadie.
In 2012, the first night we arrived, Lynn slept about 14 hours. She had gotten a new puppy later in the summer, and this was her first weekend without the puppy since she’d gotten her. We all slept a ton that weekend. We didn’t do much other than read, eat, sleep, take baths, watch TV (Larry’s a San Francisco Giants fan, and they won two games of the World Series while we were there), and hike. Lynn and I went on one hike with our newly found cousin on our mom’s side and her husband, who stayed for an early dinner that Saturday as well. Oh, and I bought a puzzle to work on that I didn’t finish. It was of morel mushrooms, and it was mostly all the same color. I just ran out of time; three evenings with full days of non-puzzle time just wasn’t enough.
None of us had really been looking forward to the weekend – although we hadn’t really been dreading it, either, really (okay, maybe a little) – and we all agreed it was exactly the relaxing weekend we needed. For me, that weekend – combined with writing one of my last posts on Mom’s CaringBridge site and speaking with a grief counselor – was the start of my healing process. I still miss my mom, but she was a lover of life, and she wouldn’t want us to stop living our lives because she had stopped living hers.
So this year it was just the three of us again; Sami (Lynn’s now one-year old puppy) was staying with friends, and Mark had the same Science Saturday that he’d had last year, so he was unable to join us. After we picked up Larry from the airport, we drove to the Rustic Inn in Castle Danger for lunch, where we met one of our cousins on our dad’s side for lunch. We arrived at the house late in the afternoon on Thursday and we all agreed it was like coming home. It was a place we had been to with mom, and we knew she loved the house as much as we did. And we no longer had any of our childhood homes or even the home she was living in when she died, so this place felt a little like a surrogate home for us.
Only this year, at least for me, felt different. I didn’t sleep nearly as much as I did last year; in fact, I slept a lot less. In fact, I was lucky if I slept for six hours each night; our last night there I slept 4 ½ only. And I was actually running. Last year, I didn’t feel much like running, so I was doing mostly walking for most of the year. This year, I was actually training in the fall for a ½ marathon that I accidentally ran last year. I had no intention of running the entire thing last year, just maybe half of it, since I hadn’t run more than 3-4 miles at any given time. This year, I had a long run planned for Friday morning that I was worried about, since my track record (pun intended!) was so poor last year when left to my own devices. When I have friends waiting for me I’m a pretty consistent runner. When I’m on my own… not so much. I was figuring out my out and back run along the shore when Lynn offered to drop me off somewhere, which was perfect! If you’re dropped off 10-11 miles from home, all you can do is run back; you gotta get back somehow!
This year the World Series games we watched were between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals, including the game where the Sox lost due to the obstruction call (I was the only one still awake to see it, however). Mark and I don’t have a TV at our house other than for movies, so watching games or regular TV shows is out of the question usually, so watching TV on that weekend up the shore was kinda fun. We also watched the movie Secretariat, which we all loved.
I’m also no longer doing work that I don’t enjoy this year; and I’m in the middle of learning all about Positive Psychology, which was a gift from my mom.
So while last year felt like we were in the throes of the forest fire, with devastation and loss happening all around us, this year felt like the start of new growth. Rejuvenation. Time spent with siblings.
(my sister set up the timer for this photo, with the lake behind us, from the window seat in the master bedroom. You can’t see the lake [or the window seat!] but it’s there!)