Sunday, September 1, 2013

Getting to Base Camp

Sunday morning, 9am. The day starts up: a plane drones over; a lawnmower comes to life down the street. The cats and I have had breakfast. When I start late, it works for me to meditate after breakfast, not before, though that's against all the 'rules'. Feeling hungry is too much distraction. And life itself distracts; if I decide to do it before lunch instead, I might never get to it.

I like to come out here early, when the day is fresh. The machinery noises have gone now, and some nearby bird is chirping, softly and briefly. It is the first day of Spring. This time last year, Adam went home (back to Melbourne) in the afternoon, after visiting Andrew in Heritage Lodge in the morning. He had been here several days, and felt there was no more he could do, as well as no more he could stand.

'Goodbye, Dad,' he said, knowing it as the final goodbye. Andrew was deeply loved by all his children, and loved them deeply. Remembering, I'm struck by the sadness in that moment. At the time, it was one piece of a larger, ongoing, all-encompassing sadness.

On the first of September last year I wrote a poem (a tanka): 

in Spring
the time of new life
my dear love
makes ready to travel
to the Summerlands

And indeed, two days later he went. The anniversary is now so close! I cannot believe a year has gone by already. A year in which I have been focused on getting through grief and widowhood as best I could, a day at a time. I am reminded of what my psychiatrist said, many years ago when I was in therapy: 'Just keep putting one foot after the other —and after awhile, if you look back over your shoulder, you'll see that you've travelled quite a way.' Yes, a whole year, step by step. 

I feel as if I am only now beginning to adjust. I suppose it took that year-long journey to bring me to this point. I recall our flight to look at Everest in 1998, which revealed that it's a heck of a hike even to get to Base Camp — an arduous journey in itself, even before starting the actual ascent. I guess I've just reached Base Camp. This, I acknowledge, is an achievement in itself.

I don't expect to proceed very differently. I'll go on step by step. But for climbing a mountain, different plans and preparations must be made. You have to make sure you are physically fit. I'm working on it! You have to make sure you have the equipment you need. I've just upgraded various household appliances that conked out ... and I have my friends, my cats and my writing. You have to be in the right frame of mind. I meditate regularly now.

My neighbour next door has woken up and is giving the repeated, phlegmy cough with which he always starts the day. I think I'm bad, with the throat-clearing that goes on at night when I hit the pillow! If I drink olive leaf extract, that fixes it. This guy is much worse; but it seems to be a first-thing-in-the-morning occurrence, not lasting through the day.

We all continue doing our lives the best way we can. Until we stop.

This day, every year, is the birthday of my dear niece, Ellie. This day last year I didn't ring her. Couldn't quite come at saying, 'Happy Birthday — and by the way, Andrew's at death's door [uncontrollable sobs].' I deferred the call until some days after he died. But I'll phone today, in a little while.


  1. Good for you, Rosemary. You have come a long way, to the base camp and then some I would say. Yes, and please call your neice.

    It took me more than a year to get over (still not completely--those uncontrollable sobs don't ever stop I am thinking, but different, just a few (or two) stiffled sobs now when I do an inward sigh--43 years later) after my divorce.

    I don't do meditation but do pray to God. My friend told me right from the start that when it seems there is no one now who loves you/me to remember that God still loves me. I believe that.

    1. Dear Jim, I hope you realise what a great comfort to me your comments are. I appreciate your willingness to share your own journey and the fact that you are so in touch with your emotions. These were qualities Andrew had too. He was a really nice man — and so are you.

  2. A step at a time has gotten you this far, Rosemary. I've watched your struggles and felt so bad for you. Happy that you're finding your way. :)

    1. I am, thank you Jo.The struggles are part of that, I think.

  3. Yes, one just must keep plugging on, one day at a time, you have made the journey well, some days I know probably not so well, but still you pull through, and one must enjoy the life and loved ones to bring joy to all. Base camp is a good thing!

  4. I always say..."Just do the next thing!" That is what Elisabeth Eliott, a well known Christian speaker always said on her radio programs and it always encouraged me. I told it to my daughters over the years when times were hard. We can't face everything at once, or tackle all the issues at once, but we can just do the next thing...and the next thing after that etc., and somehow we will get through!

    I am not a widow but many of my friends are, and I am glad to report that they are each doing well, and finding things to enjoy...even though they never thought they would after the home-going of their husbands. It must be so hard...but they have each survived!

    I always think that there is no way I would be able to handle losing my husband. Yet, I know deep in my heart, (because of my faith in God), that if that does happen, somehow (with the Lord's strength in my weakness), I will make it through by His grace...and that is my prayer for you.

    You have gone through the first year...It must have been so very hard for you, and I hope this next year will be easier...and that it will a year filled with family, friends and fun things along the way. ((Hugs))

    Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

    1. Linda, what excellent advice! Thank you. I plan to use that handy little phrase from now on, to get me through whatever comes.

      I do believe there is only one God to whom we all pray, however our practices, terminology and subsidiary beliefs may vary. I know that I am looked after and am never sent more than I can handle (with help from 'Upstairs').

  5. Hello Rosemary,

    Long time, too long since I didn"t stop by your blog....And I thought about you, and I saw your comment while I was in Italy...Its took me some days to catch up with others things and here to talke some news and I'm reading back just to see how things goes during the first year birthday.

    Yes, I can rely on a lot your telling....Finally you find the right conclusion "we all continue doing our lives the best way we can. Until we stop." I like my Tanka it's a peaceful farewell...


  6. Thanks for coming, Grace. I've missed you!


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