Monday, July 9, 2007


You do not know what wars go on down there where the spirit meets the bone.
~Miller Williams
Nor do we ever really understand them. This is one entry I hope I can get through enough to post. No tag offer today and for those who requested my tag last week, thank you for your patience.  By now you should have received your tag by email.  Please let me know if you have not.

I wish I could say this will be a happy, upbeat and positive entry...that's what I want my journal to be. Heavy on the ups with a mere trace of the downs. But life doesn't always work out that way. This is an entry of good and bad. Best start with the bad, so as to end on a positive note. For as long as I can remember in all my relationships I do strive to end things on a positive note...with positive words and a smile for we never truly know what lies around the next corner.

Last week life went around another corner.

Sam and I returned home from the mountains on Wednesday and of itself the trip was somewhat eventful, but that'll come later. Thursday morning as I prepared for work, Sam called me from his office. He never calls me before I leave for work and when he said he had some bad news a million thoughts passed through my head. His company had been sold and he might losehis job, a friend was injured, any number of things...but what I heard may as well been spoken to me in a foreign language for in all my life I swore I'd never hear anyone tell me my uncle Dick had shot himself. Never. Not Dick...not my Uncle Dick.
I hate telephones...they are never the messenger of good tidyings. 

In my life I've known two uncles; a brother for each my father and my mother.  And with all the similarities there could be between the two I never dreamed they would both leave this world with a gun pointed at their head.
Just hours ago I sat in solemn fellowship with my family as we remembered a warm, happy, devoted, and funny man who loved many and many loved. The number of people in attendance was so great the ceremony was delayed a half an hour to allow everyone into the church. My Aunt, bless her heart, is a strong woman and on the outside she's her usual self. Watching her today, I saw not a grieving widow, but a concerned mother and help mate focused on the comfort of those around her. She and my cousins met with every person who attended the service; it took an hour for all the guests to make their way past the area reserved for family...but people waited, patiently, for their time with them.  For an hour my aunt reached out, hugged, spoke, listened, bowed her head, and every now and then, she'd smile...maybe laugh.  She held it together, meeting face after face of sadness and she remained strong. Solid. Beneath the surface who knows what is going on. Does anyone? My cousins miss their daddy. Doesn't matter that they are all adults...a broken heart knows only the pain of loss. 

They played 'Believe' by Brooks and Dunn today, Amazing Grace, I Can Only Imagine, and several others that escape my memory right now. Uncle Dick was in each and every song. 

We will never know why.  We do know he was depressed and under a doctor's care.  I heard talk today that the anti-depressants prescribed to him are the focus of a class action lawsuit. And I heard family members say he wasn't himself last Tuesday morning. He took his dog for a walk, spent a little time with his youngest son, who then left on a errand. My aunt left to exercise, and my uncle walked out to the garage. That is where she found him when she returned.

As children we prepare ourselves for the inevitable loss of a parent, but we are never really prepared. Whether the loss is sudden and unexpected, or comes after a lengthy illness, more often than not we want a do-over, a replay...another day, another month, another year. It can't be, not yet. And we hold on to the thread of memory hanging loose from the woven fabric of a lifetime, fearful that if that thread is released from the cloth we will lose it forever. Caught in the winds of change the thread will disappear leaving us with only the remnant of what was once the life we knew.

It hurts. 

Fifteen years ago two young girls, aged 14 and 12, were dealing with the loss of a mother taken from them too soon and unexpectedly in a plane crash. When I reached out to relate my familiar understanding of such a loss, I was told point blank by both that I didn't know what they were feeling because I was an adult when I lost my mother. They were hurting, angry...confused and I understood that. Rather than react to their heated response, I merely replied that the heart has no concept of time; a broken heart knows only the pain of loss. They both dismissed the thought without another word until five years later when my dad lost his battle with cancer. On the day I buried my father they saw with their own eyes and heart, just what I meant. Now I think they understand.

One of my sisters asked me today when I last saw our was last year at a trip to our local Costco. Sam and I chatted casually with Dick and Jean'e about their new house and my aunt reminded me as she always does that they never see me enough, I need to call them more often, and I could drop by their home anytime. And yes, now I wish I had. There was always this excuse or that reason, the demands of life in 3D and after a day at work all I want to do is nothing. I'm home and I don't want to leave. I can't find comfort in those words now, they no longer work for me so I'm tossing them out before I round the next corner.

A moment ago I was struck by a thought, a bit of irony if you will. Sixteen years ago my 34 year old cousin drowned while kayaking on the N Fork of the Clearwater River. The day my cousin drowned, Sam was camping at Washington Creek Campground.

My aunt and uncle never got over the loss of their oldest son. The irony is when my uncle put that gun to his head last Tuesday afternoon, Sam and I were camping at Washington Creek Campground...and just a few days before we had drove past the Irish Railroad rapids, where my cousin drowned. And I thought about him as I looked into the swirling white water action bubbling over the granite boulders. I always think about Jerry whenever we travel to the North Fork. He loved it up there, it was his second home and each time I'm there I often feel the essence of his spirit nearby. And I smile.  
The trip to the mountains began and was for the most part a refreshing break. We went camping with another couple and on the drive up Friday night we hit a horrible storm complete with golf ball sized hail. When the first ball hit the pick-up cab it landed with a loud BOOM! Scared the begeezus outta me!! The storm really did a number on the forest, in places it looked like a torpedo had hit the mountainside. There were trees laying across the road and several times we had to navigate the pick-up and our 27 foot trailer over the thick trunk of a once tall standing cedar or fir tree. It was crazy! 

The next day the weather was all blue skies and sunny days. Not too many gentle breezes, but we had a cool clean river in which to cool off. We ate too much, relaxed a lot and the guys caught and released a couple of fish. I put my hummingbird feeder out, but had few visitors. So when we made our annual drive up river to the Kelly Forks Work Center (Forest Service) I asked the staff person about the decreased hummingbird activity. She's taking a birding class and told me the population has declined by 50-80% in the past fifteen years, but the babies will be flying soon so the numbers will then increase. It was a nice trip for the most part, but I'll let the photos take it from here.

  Low hanging storm clouds over the Weippe Prairie. Lil red on a rock. Casey's Shower, July 2007 Casey's Shower, July 2006 Castle (or Cathedral) Rock Rum's a happy dog. In my shoes.