Limantour continues to bring the magic…
Kittens…where to begin?
Of course, I come here and the tear ducts go live. You make it so safe for me to be vulnerable. Thank you. And thank you for your kind words of love and support as my family celebrated the life of a genuine, selfless, lovable woman whom you all have come to love as well.
Oh, and did she LOVE you! She was YOUR biggest fan, too, reading each and every comment several times over. While you have read her words, you weren’t privy to the conversations we’ve had since the Pocket Call. She sang your praises! And gave thanks to you for holding my hand these last few years. While this is all so virtual, I know she feels better knowing we have each other. And now she is virtual, too. So feel free to call on her.
I am not surprised that she continues to guide me in a fashion consistent since my childhood. I’m going to follow her example, continue to hear her words, and trust that Mom knows best. Because this one sure did. And does.
She was ready to die in those last few days. So ready. For the first time since her diagnosis she was ready to leave her children, a feeling she may not have ever expected to feel. In those last days as she straddled the dimensions she likely saw the way souls remain in touch with those still living a human existence and felt comforted. And then did not pause for a moment before getting in touch with us.
She also disobeyed me. The nerve…
I explicitly told her that under no circumstances was she to have the song On Eagles Wings played at the funeral.
I don’t understand why she couldn’t just go with my playlist: Chopsticks, Happy Birthday, Three Blind Mice and anything by Tiny Tim.
I heard the first notes of that song and up went my eyes. Oh, Burdee, you pulled a fast one on me!
For a few years after my Dad died I balled my eyes out every time I heard that song, which was played at his funeral. When I was living at home and attending the church where I grew up, people would bring tissues to hand to me as I sat in the pew sobbing my face off. I bet those who attended 10:15 mass eventually chose to get up two hours earlier so they could have some peace at church without me sniffling and heaving my way through the service.
…and He will raise you up on Eagle’s Wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of His hand…
Except the day we buried Mom. I am as amazed as you are.
I didn’t have to think of bicycle boys, or gluten-free muffins, or hauling in a 50 pound salmon, or any other visual that makes me smile. She did it all on her own. I looked up. And then said quietly, You are amazing.
It was only during the Eulogy that I had a hard time getting words out in certain parts. (If you didn’t see it, I posted it on the Facebook page.) Otherwise, dry-eyed. I credit Mom and my spiritual growth over these last three years. She is happy now, and therefor I am happy for her. I do miss her. Even reached for the phone to call her the other morning. But I don’t have to strain my neck for an hour anymore, the phone held in place by my ear and shoulder. I can just look up…
Which is what my oldest brother did after leaving our parents’ gravesite. Something caught his eye. Wings. Of an Eagle.
I lived in that town for 24 years and never saw an Eagle. Not once. Sure, it’s not Hoboken, but it’s still Jersey. Central, yes. Trees, hills – I’m sure there are Eagles there. But in all the years I lived there I never saw one. Neither did any of my siblings. Until the exact moment we walked away from her grave. And then the man who held her hand 24/7 for the last several years and did not leave her side in the last few months looked up at just the right time to watch one soar over her grave.
He told us at the luncheon following her funeral. We gasped.
By now you know her nickname was Burdee. EVERYONE called her this. Even her license plate said Burdee. She must not be the only one who fancies the name. My youngest brother sent us all a text from the parking lot as we prepared to leave the luncheon. The car parked right next to his had a license plate that said JBurds. From her birth state of Illinois. J is the first letter of her last name. Mrs. J, they’d call her. Then JBurd.
The next day another brother (from the same mother) stopped by our parents’ grave for a visit midday. When large birds of prey are resting, hidden in the trees. Waiting for sundown to emerge and hunt.
Two Eagles soared overhead. Two.
Back on the west coast I was starting to feel a little left out. I returned Monday, in a mental fog. The Dudes dealt beautifully with our plane being diverted to Chicago for a fuel tank issue. Not exactly the kind of sign I was hoping for. A six hour journey turned into eleven hours. By the time I sat on my patio feeling the real fog embrace me I was calm, tired. And wondering why I wasn’t crying.
Every time I thought of Mom I smiled. It was, and still is, reflexive. I can’t help it. I just smile.
Never more broadly then the next day when I declined the pull of Mt. Tam and instead drove to Limantour Beach. Mom walked with me there in spirit SO many times. Patiently waiting for me to return to a place where I had cell service so I could call her and let her know I was okay. She read each account of my seaside sobfests. Then, on her last trip west, I took her there. She couldn’t get out of the car to walk to the beach but she did get to see it. I have the memory of seeing her take in the majestic sight of the golden sand cliffs, hills covered with evergreens watching over a water-color meadow filled with wildflowers and grasses that climb the sand dunes. Beyond, the biggest ocean. The sight took her breath.
And then, on Tuesday, she took mine.
I walked south for an hour. High up in the soft sand so I could get a workout. The beach was deserted. I wanted to get closer to the waves, but with all the sitting and flying and restaurant food, psychologically I needed to feel like I was working hard, losing a step in the sand for every two I took. Eventually, the waves won. Down to the water’s edge I went. I leaned into the wind wishing I had brought a scarf or headband to warm my ears. Spray flew off the back of crashing waves like bridal veils. Birds hovered, letting the wind keep them afloat without a single flap of their wings. Groups of Pelicans glided overhead, then swooped down to buzz the waves before heading out to sea.
When I brought my eyes back to the sand under my feet I was standing in the midst of rose petals. Red and white rose petals strewn for twenty feet along the water’s edge.
On a Tuesday.
On a beach that is consistently altered by the winds, covered by the tides, visited by few. On a weekday, nearly none.
I picked up red petals that were still attached to each other, bringing it to my nose expecting to smell nothing but the sea air around me. The scent of a freshly cut rose…
My laugh rose above the sound of the waves crashing to my right.
She’s with me. She’s here to guide me. And now she knows that I kept a secret from her for fear that she would hold on if she knew.
I need her wisdom and guidance just as much now as I did then. Not for another mountain climb, although it will be just as intense, hopefully not more intense.
When I descended from Mt. Rainier I realized that my desire, my calling, is to tell the stories of those who climb mountains, literally and figuratively. HGM trained me for this. Writing from the heart these past three years has finally convinced me that I can actually tell a story through the written word that resonates, inspires, entertains, teaches, causes those who read it to reflect and ponder. Someone else saw that I could do it, too. Barbie with Brains. One night, on the porch of the Sand Dollar she said, I have a job for you.
I was hoping she would say marry me, but her husband, who sat with us, would have put a stop to that.
They proceeded to tell me the story of a woman who grabbed fear in one hand while she accomplished what others said she could not with the other. In a country that has been in the midst of war for over thirty years. Where women historically have been repressed, hidden behind mud walls or burkas. Forced to marry, prevented from having any freedom. I met this woman. Since that day I have not been the same. This is just the beginning of the life-changing shift that is clearly underway and will change me forever.
I am honored to say that I will be writing her biography. This epic tale, and I truly mean epic, will take me to Afghanistan. And that’s just the beginning. Telling her story is a tremendous opportunity, one seasoned authors dream about. As if that isn’t enough of a gift, I will also have the opportunity to give love and hope and charitable support to those who most need it – the children in Afghanistan who just want the chance to learn, to be free, to live life. So they can change the direction of their magnificent land. So they can partake in changing the world, in bringing peace. No matter how impossible a task it seems to be.
My gratitude to BwB and Mr. Perfect Timing for making this possible.
Mom, now you know. Thank you for being my angel. For tossing rose petals and dispensing wisdom, drying tears and bringing smiles. For telling me to enjoy the moment. For believing in me. Come with me to this magical land…stay close.