Last year on November 1st, I woke up to wind storms on Cannon Beach, the sounds of the ocean crashing, and a surreal sense of anticipation.
It is my wedding day, and I am preparing to cross an invisible threshold in life and in love. I can feel the change deep down in my cells; this day is massively significant. It isn’t so much about the wedding itself, but the commitment we are entering into with the knowledge that the choices we are making on this day by saying yes to love, will determine the choices we create in our tomorrows.
My heart is ready to cast our stone into the lake of love and see what ripple effects will come.
Today on November 1st, there are now 8 women in various stages of reading my manuscript and lending their unique voices as writers, therapists, scientists, and one friend, who just went through sorrowful loss, to the review of the work- advanced praise for the book jacket and book press. I sent out the word document over the weekend with an overwhelming emotion I can’t quite describe and the realization that this work just grew beyond me.
I’ve been carrying this story of loss and love and siblings and grief and resilience inside of myself these past 9 and a half months, letting it out in small bits and pieces- a blog here, a few words there- but now it exists in a something that tells the entirety. I managed to take an internal passage of grief, that is invisible and intangible, and make it visible and tangible. And as I received a message from the friend dealing with loss- she dove right in and was halfway through in a day- that said, this right here, this is it, this is where I’m at, I realized something else:
I am no longer alone in my story. And I am no longer alone in my grief.
In writing this book, I have cast my stone hard and heavy into the collective, and others are going to feel the waves, experience them along with me, find the courage to feel and talk about and express their own waves.
Three years ago on November 1st, I met my husband.
I am in Oregon preparing to run a trail marathon; my beloved Dog has just died 7 days earlier; and I am lost in the missing of the being that has constituted my sense of family, even as I try to stay open to life and the autumn beauty of the Northwest whose colorful, changing dance of trees remind me that all life returns to the ground to help nourish the soil for new spring.
Death is always followed by rebirth.
I run for Dog during the race, picture his spirit galloping beside me like a joyful, shimmering Patronus. We run over pine crested trails, under roaring waterfalls, through heavy thick forests, and right by this guy on mile 7 who casually starts to chat. I notice how when the rain comes, that unlike other runners who drop their chins and hunker down against the elements, he instead, lifts his face to the sky, stretches his arms out, looks up, and receives.
We talk off and on throughout, and when he pulls ahead of me the last 5 miles I find him waiting around at the finish. Smiling, affable, trading stories about the race; he asks for my number; I figure nothing will come of it.
The next day I find myself sitting in a coffee shop in Lake Oswego. Watching the rain fall, working on art, whiling away the afternoon before returning home that evening, a text pops up: If you’re still in town, would you like to get coffee?
I am so close to saying no in this moment. My heart is raw and tender from the loss of my cherished fur friend. Though everything about this guy seems highly likable, by now I have accumulated enough wounds from men in my post divorce years that I’ve got some shrapnel inside of me and a real lack of trust for agenda and motive when it comes to the other gender.
I have just begun publishing my writing and turning my art into cards; I am in a good place creatively, and I have no tolerance or patience for distractions and games and the potential for more hurt, which may knock me from a path I’ve fought hard to create. And besides, realistically, what’s a girl from Alaska going to do with a guy who lives in Oregon?
I start to lie and say I’m already at the airport prepared to head back when a small voice inside asserts itself. When did you become so closed to life BethAnne? When did you trade isolation for connection? When did you become so hurt that you shut yourself off to possibilities?
I still my hand, tell myself it’s just one cup of coffee- I’ll probably never see him again anyways, and invite him to come join me instead.
November 1st, and it can’t decide whether it is fall or winter outside my window; last week’s snowfall giving way to warmer temperatures that have melted most of the ice revealing a few vestiges of autumn still lingering on the trees. We have plans for a fancy dinner tonight, a fun run this morning, and we’ve had several mini-celebrations over the weekend to mark anniversary week.
Three years into our relationship, one year into our marriage, life has thrown us many curve balls and hasn’t made it easy. But it has been worth it.
Because what I didn’t know three years ago, is that the affable guy on that Oregon trail would turn out to be capable of loving with a precision, an absolution, and a salvation I was going to need in days ahead. That part of the reason I have been able to face this loss head on, to weather these last months, to empower myself to put these words onto paper and cast myself into the change of life is because he is standing there beside me.
That his yes to me was a Yes to the All.
Yes I will give up sun for you and move across the ocean to Alaska.
Yes I will be there for you through the loss of your brother scant months after our marriage- we barely had time to breathe in the joy before we found ourselves swamped in the grief.
Yes I support your writing and your books and your hopes and your dreams.
Yes I’ll move across the ocean. Again. This time to Kauai, you crazy, wonderful woman. Thanks for at least picking a sunny place this go around.
Yes I will be there for it all, have been there for it all, will continue to do so, you are my best friend.
Yes to life. Yes to love. Yes to all. Yes. I do.
Happy Anniversary e.