Monday, 23 August 2010

Wish there was a ritual...

He was hilarious. He had a great laugh. His hugs were some of the best, ever. He was kind. He loved my kids. He was a fisherman. He was a great cook. He was the apple of my sister’s eye and she was his. He was just stinkin’ fantastic…and now he’s gone. Tomorrow marks one year since he the day he left this earth.

I read up on rituals to celebrate the anniversary of someone’s death. I loved that there were extremely specific ways of marking that day in so many other cultures. Most included sacrifices and prayers. One mandates a candle being lit at sundown the day before and left burning until sundown the day of. Some suggest articles left on altars (if I had an altar I’d leave a match-box car corvette…see below). Others specific foods eaten in specific orders. In our Western culture we have no rituals for grief. It’s tragic really. Rituals provide context. They’re very helpful that way.

I like rituals, but as there was no mandated one in my culture it was really hard to think of something to do tomorrow, and yet I felt compelled to do something. I just couldn’t decide and then I was reminded by a friend of his own great description of himself on his facebook page. Here's what he wrote:

Anyone who knows me knows that I have always been a fisherman, but over the last fifteen years my passion has bordered on obsession. I am an AVID fly fisherman. Rain or shine my pursuit of trout with a flyrod is endless. The only thing that eclipses my love of fly fishing is my love for my precious wife, Noel. And, I am also a man who.....has been sober for more than 4 years~has driven a motorcycle 140 mph~thinks mean people suck~has been in a hurricane, 2 blizzards, been caught outside in a crushing hailstorm and evacuated because of a tsunami~loves hazelnut americanos~Once stood on top of the World Trade center~has been 2200 miles up the Amazon river~ has seen the Taj Mahal with my own eyes~has been bitten by a snake, 2 dogs, a goose, a cat, countless fish and about a gazillion mosquitos~cries every time Rudy finally gets accepted to Notre Dame~would risk my life for someone I've never met~takes a flyrod on every vacation, no matter where, just in case~thinks climbing Everest is impressive but wishes they would clean up their shit afterwards~has caught lobsters and alligators with my bare hands~knows how to sail~doesn't remember learning how to swim(I could always do it)~loves Hawaiian music~wants an old school corvette but in the mean time collects corvette hotwheels~eats the best bite somewhere in the middle~is addicted to Fresca~digs climbing trees~has gone over a waterfall to land a trout~thinks Leggos are frickin' fun~is fascinated by thunderstorms but afraid of lightning~is a pretty decent pistol shot~has hunted elk with a bow~would most likely kick my little sisters ass in pool or darts(inside joke)~has surfed waves big enough to keep most people out of the water~would pull over on a lonely highway to take a bitchin' photograph~would take the lonely highway in the first place, on purpose~ has been 10 feet from a 12 ft. tiger shark~feels sorry for zoo and circus animals~has caught a yellow-fin tuna and eaten it sashimi style within 5 minutes~has had over 150 stitches~tried to ride a BMX bike off a roof into a pool and missed~has wrecked 3 cars and 2 motorcycles~knows the difference between western and english horseback riding styles and can do both~thinks that greenhouse gasses are not just a made up problem, and that we will most likely run out of oil in our lifetime~ thinks people should be able to marry whomever they choose, regardless of gender, and that everyone should have the right to choose~believes there is a difference between listening and hearing, and that to get respect you have to give it~believes that there is a God~and finally, believes that the greatest gift anyone posseses is the ability to recognize their own gift.

Perhaps one of Sawan’s greatest gifts was the gift of making any time, on any day, with anyone--a party. So to honor my dear friend and deeply missed brother-in-law and my boy's uncle extraordinaire we’re going to party. I have waffled back and forth but in the end I decided to follow Bridger and Caid's lead because that would have been very Sawan-esque too. So, I think we’ll swim. That seems appropriate. We may go to the park and have a picnic. One of the last times I saw Sawan we had a great picnic at Wash Park. I believe we’ll eat—cause he liked to do that too. I may get the legos out and we might draw pictures and I’m not sure what else. Mostly we’ll miss him, and we’ll love him, and we’ll do our best to honor his spirit and love of life and others.

Sawan Nail, you are deeply missed.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

What a year...

I descend the overgrown steps in my wellies and marvel at how sweaty I am considering the overcast day. We cross a little wooden footbridge and over the style into the farmer’s field and I watch my big boys race with their friends to the opposite side while the sheep scatter. It’s postcard perfect English countryside and I’m on another weekend walk with my friends. I’m quite sure this may be the perfect way to spend a Saturday. A walk through the countryside ending, of course, with a pint at the pub. Then we all converge on the designated house and tuck in to curry complete with too much wine, much laughter, and talking until late into the night.

I celebrated a quintessentially English 33rd birthday yesterday. Surrounded by good friends, my baby sister, and my four men.

A year ago today I was on a train through the beautiful French countryside. It was one of my favorite Caid moments. We were sitting on the train platform in Avignon, France. Some young blonde backpackers near us were speaking a language neither Scott nor I recognized. We were discussing what it might be when Caid very adamantly declared, “I know what it is! Vegetarian!” Scott and I died laughing! Several minutes later Caid asked, “What is ‘veg’?” Thinking he meant the newly learned British translation of a common word I answered, “vegetables.” “A country, called ‘Vegetable’ Mom? I don’t think so.” was his incredulous reply. We howled.

It was a wonderful birthday week. We dropped Bridger and Caid with Travis and Keri in Arles, France, and Scott and I spent several days celebrating our 11 year anniversary by ourselves in Antibes. We visited the local Farmer’s Market and swam in the salt-water pool every day. We took walks. We ate amazing meals at tiny restaurants. It was so fun. Then we reunited with the fellas and the Baars and went swimming and cliff jumping at a gorgeous river beneath a old Roman aqueduct—The Pont du Gard. We ate birthday dinner in the middle of the town square beneath twinkly lights and I even drank just a tiny bit of wine on account of my first trimester pregnancy. It was delicious. Memorable. Hilarious. Relaxing.

We returned home and thus began one of the most intense years of my life.

I thought I’d give myself the next few weeks to sort through the memories a bit. Mind if I share a few of them with you? What were you doing a year ago today?