Friday, September 5, 2014

Wherever you go, there you are

I am writing this from Anchorage, Alaska, a long way from home. I got here by way of a two planes, two trains and a cruise ship. It's been a long, strange week. I've posted photos elsewhere on this blog and will be posting more soon. Alaska isn't the topic of this post, so please look elsewhere for that information.

Right after Kevin died I realized that my life had become immeasurably bleak. There was nothing to look forward to, because Kevin was the north star of my future. I needed some point of reference. After some thought and research, I decided to take an Alaskan cruise with a little adventure time on either side.

I decided this for a couple of reasons.
  1. I realized I didn't have the resilience or energy to travel the way I usually do, without a rigid itinerary, figuring out what comes next as needed and carrying minimal gear. Grief is exhausting and I knew I wouldn't have the strength to just wander, make decisions, or even really care for myself.
  2. I wanted a challenge but not too much of one. That meant I needed to speak the language which, since I am only fluent in English, limited my choices.
  3. I wanted to be reminded of how big the world is and how small I am. This same desire drove my trip to England when I was 26, shortly after I had cancer. Since Kevin was my world I wanted to see that the world still was.
  4. And I wanted to do something that Kevin and I had not thought about doing together. He had no interest in going to Alaska. Kevin hated being cold and no amount of wheedling would convince him that he wouldn't freeze in Alaska.
With those factors in mind I booked myself a trip. 

That trip is now almost over. 

Parts were beautiful; Alaska is an amazing place and one I will come back to. I did find the space and majesty I was looking for. I am very small. That's okay.

The world still exists. My world has been utterly changed, but I am still here. And the world is too. I can't outrun myself.

I didn't escape any of the baggage I brought with me. I didn't grieve any less. I spent nights crying, I had a day spent largely in bed, I am no less devastated. Because that's the way it is. You can't run away from the pain and the loss when they are what you carry inside and, at least these days, they are the biggest part of me, the biggest thing I carry. 

Wherever you go, there you are. 

Watching glaciers calve, there I am, wishing you were beside me.
Chatting with strangers I will never see again, there I am, imagining you charming them.
Walking through Anchorage in the rain, admiring the strength of the bear in Hoonah, watching the whale dive, there I am. Without you and with you. 

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

We cannot escape ourselves, no matter how far we go. A blessing and a curse, since that means I will never escape loving Kevin and never escape missing him. But I would rather have this pain than never have had him. And that is something.

Look, what a lovely flower. 
Listen, can you hear the raven?
Are you there?

(23 weeks. I love you. I miss you.)

(c)2014 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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