Chasing After Heaven’s Dreams–Happy (Belated) Easter

Happy Easter, Everyone,

I just didn’t want to let the sun set on today, Easter Sunday, without a shout-out from the waling wall. ūüė¶

We are down in lower Virginia at our summer house on the Chesapeake Bay‚Ķ..actually, the eastern tip of the Piankatank River such that we have a little surround of land on either side of the river-bay, for which I’m grateful as it serves to protect us (just a bit) from getting hammered when the hurricanes hit‚Ķ..AND THEY DO. I withstood Ernesto and have never in my life experienced such a radical turn of nature, but that’s a topic for another time.

I love it here in the “red-neck Hamptons!” Peaceful and easy. Only jammies and bathing suits needed. Hairdryers and makeup can stay at home.

View from the water to the house

As just about everyone who knows me knows, I’m in a dark, sad place watching my dog, Zolton, slip away from this earthly existence.

I think a big part of it, for me, is that I know my precious Zolton’s days with me are too few. He loves this house. He’s a water dog–part Newfoundland-part Labrador and this place is paradise. Plus he knows how happy we all are when we are here–a respite away from our busy lives up north.

He was thrilled to arrive, albeit a long, long car ride when he became quite accustomed to traveling there by private jet, only about 25 minutes in the air versus 5 – 7 hours in a car (I have told you that I have withstood some extreme lifestyle changes).

Zolton and George resting on the ride

We had to stop every two hours to let him out to go potty and to give him a good long drink–the steroids are nasty yet I think they are making him more comfortable. Quality of life decisions!

Yet to our great surprise, his spirits picked up the moment we drove in our driveway. Wagging tail took to the air. Head up high. Smile on his grey snout.

In the days to follow, we took our ritualistic walks with our friends and their dogs.

We’d visit friends’ cottages and their dogs and love each other to pieces. We snapped lots of photos and kissed each other a lot.

We even rolled in the dirt and jumped in the water to rinse off. Well, he did; I didn’t.

We watched the moon rise….

And we had cocktails on the deck….it was a little chilly but we snuggled on the double chaise (minus the Hermes towels).

Our friends and their four dogs came to visit!

It really was a beautiful day. It began with a lovely church service and ended with a yummy dinner shared with friends (and even more dogs) such that this post is coming, not on Easter Sunday, as intended, but Monday….Easter Monday.

What strikes me most on this glorious day of hope is why I have so much trouble living in the moment. I mean I was able to forget the pain for a few moments here and there but the weekend was pretty much clouded over with sorrow‚Ķ.at least for me. Once I hear about a grim medical diagnosis, I’m always burying that person-dog (I do it with people, too) rather than being grateful for the very moment embracing me that very second. We were never promised much more than what is in front of us. Why? I wonder can’t I just enjoy the good days. Do other people feel this way, too?

It was just so bittersweet for I know Zolton will never return to his most favorite spot on the Chesapeake Bay. We won’t be returning until the summer and I know I am dealing with an aggressive enemy. I have nearly fallen apart. I’ve lost 6 pounds in 10 days; my hands shake; I can’t paint, write or think straight. I feel pain so deeply; I am more sensitive than most. That being said, I also feel joy, when I feel it, probably more than most. Oddly (given what I have put forth in these blogs), I am pretty much the life of a party. I am the “fun” friend‚Ķ.I am usually upbeat and FILLED with joy‚Ķ.when I am. And when I’m not, I’m morose‚Ķlike I’ve been in these blog entries. Completely morbid. It’s been a tough two years but I’m ready for the new season in my life when joy is restored.

I’m reminded by the words of Kahlil Gibran on Joy and Sorrow:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

We need to remember that the most sorrowful moments will give way, in good time, to moments that are overflowing with peace, joy and contentment‚Ķ.and maybe even a good dance party! And perhaps there is a purpose to in it all, after all…

Happy Easter Monday, Everyone.
Love,
Melissa

A year in heaven

This week, March 6th, to be precise, marks the year of my dear father’s departure from this world. I am an only child and losing him has been monumental. I knew it would stink, but I had no idea! I have been filled with emotion this entire year but on Tuesday, the 6th, I was BEYOND my usual level.

I thought it would be healthy to write–a catharsis of sorts–and , perhaps I could speak to someone else’s mourning–maybe extend comfort to others. But I didn’t write. I was so full of emotion, I couldn’t write. I¬†felt like locking myself in a closet and drinking a bottle of Skinny Girl Margaritas, but I ended up running on the treadmill to “Sympathy for the Devil” instead.

I am out in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, skiing with my family–an activity and a place that were very dear to my family. My Dad loves it out here–he loves the mountains, he loves fishing and skiing and he hadn’t been able to join us the last few years because of the altitude–he had emphysema. I think the last time he was here was in 2003, in the Fall. We all went hiking and up to Jenny Lake. They fished at Dick Cheney’s country club (smiles) and we went through the national parks singing some silly song I learned in college. My son remembers those days and the song (“it’s vinter in the vunderland and the vind blows on the vindowpanes and all the viggy vomen write philosophies on the vestibule…).

Image

It seems like years ago. I can’t really fathom the reality that I will never ever see him again–at least in this lifetime. When this fact permeates my soul, I go from completely O.K. one minute to breaking out in uncontrollable gasps of weeping–bordering on hyperventilation. Life just isn’t as wonderful without him on the planet. He was a kind man. A loving father and husband. One of those rare gentlemen whose humor and dignity got all of us through a lot of hard times. He wasn’t a man of many words (as my mother and myself) but he came up with some good ones when they were terribly needed. He would even mediate my marital blow-ups! He loved my son, his only grandchild, his namesake (the two of them pictured above), my mother, me and my husband and even my husband’s children (when I didn’t). He loved my cats and my dog. I remember when my dog was a puppy and I rescued him from a shelter in upstate New York and had to buy him a plane ticket to be brought to our town. My dad had picked up the dog at the airport (always doing me favors) and brought him down to our house. The puppy had had a nasty accident all over his kennel and of course my sweet father cleaned up the entire mess and the dog before he was presented to me (this was my first dog and would have been my last had I had to deal with the mess).

I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this. I just want to remember him today. I love him so much and I miss him even more. In trying to comfort his mother, when his father fails to do so, my son reminds me, “just think of the great year Grandpa had in heaven!” Oh, how I want to believe that. I really do. I think that’s why they call it faith.