Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Happy Place

We took a vacation. It was grand.

I'm taking longer than usual to get back to our "normal" life, because I have a pinched nerve in my neck. (If you know me well, or even know me on facebook, you'll be aware that I do NOT write about aches, pains, viruses or day-to-day illness, out of respect for others, particularly those who suffer from really serious conditions.)

This has been going on for several weeks, since before we left for Canada, and has prevented me from writing or reading for any length of time. That's why I've been absent from here, and from reading your blogs. All these weeks, I have been itching to read and write, so here I am, with my laptop perched on two large cushions so as not to irritate my neck.

It is good to be away from home on the anniversary of Katie's passing. As the day approaches, I worry that if I am in our house, I will walk by the door of her room, go in, and re-live her death, moment by moment. I realize that I don't have do that, but feel helpless to stop myself. It takes an annual effort to resist re-living the entire month preceding her passing. So I planned our vacation to take us away over the day it happened, and it went well.

The best way to tell you about it is in photographs...they really are worth a thousand words.
That's Gregg and David in the distance. We walked for hours and had a picnic lunch on this beach - my favorite place to hike
My friend Teri calls this a "God-circle" - shining on Incinerator Rock. I saw more than one of these on this trip
Surfers love this cove
David finally talked us into doing something we have been resisting (for reasons of economy) for several years: taking a seaplane trip to Hot Springs Cove. It was a blast.

My father used to fly a single-engine retractable (landing gear) plane called a Mooney 201, so I love small planes, but have never been in a seaplane before. Gregg has, but David and I had not. This trip included a hike out through old-growth forest on a beautifully-maintained boardwalk to three, natural hot spring pools. Gregg and David carried our lunch, water, towels and a change of clothes.

If you thought you saw this in the slideshow,
you did. 
We were stunned to come across it on our hike out to the cove. 
It felt like a love-message from our girl.
We saw thousands of these (known as "sail jellyfish," though they are not jellyfish), which rarely come ashore,
and we saw Spiderman's underpants, on the sidewalk in Victoria. If you see him, beware - he's going commando!
We stopped at a tiny winery to buy a couple of bottles of their excellent wines which are unavailable in the U.S. This is the Venturi-Schultze Brandenburg #3 dessert wine, and I highly recommend it - particularly if you accompany it with a serving of sticky date-toffee pudding.
We took beautiful walks through the countryside and city.
Community garden in James Bay neighborhood
We ate fabulous food and met interesting, fun, kindhearted people. We spent time together as a family, just the three of us. It was pure joy.
Spoiler alert: this might be our Christmas card.
Whenever we visit, I feel as if I want to move to Vancouver Island - for good. It is my "happy place," so while we're always glad to be home, we had a heavenly vacation. And I felt Katie's presence in so many lovely ways that it was easy not to grieve for her - even on the 16th.

Thanks to all of you who sent messages, thoughts and love during this time. I deeply appreciate it, and want you to know that we are well...and happy.


Elizabeth said...

I am so sorry to hear of this painful pinched nerve in your neck and how it's prohibited you from writing! I do hope it heals quickly. I thought of you and your family and Katie on the 16th, but I think of her every day when I sit down to write, too. Her beautiful face and smile look out on me --

Blessings and love your way, as always.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I hope by now that you've sought out help for the pinched nerve. This vacation looks lovely; I smiled through all the photos. (although the video said it was 'private') Katie G was with you for sure. :)
I laughed at spiderman losing his underoos; I hate it when that happens!!!
What a great place/time to spend with those who you love the most.

Kay said...

I have been a bad blogger. I've read and kept up but just popped in and out without commenting. (I'm so sorry!) But I love hearing about your trip and love that you could get away during the dreaded time frame and day. And I'm extra thankful that it was indeed a good distraction and you had an amazing trip and time together. Love that Katie G made her presence known too. : ) Hugs and love...and so sorry I've been absent. Aaaaand love the pics. So gorgeous!

joanlvh said...

I am facing the 9th anniversary of my sons death and so identified with fighting a desire to relive ever day of the month or so before the day of his death. I have
another friend who was with her child during illness and death and she has similar days. Thanks for your blog and hope your neck is better. joanlvh

Jennifer said...

What a joy to hear of how you felt Katie's presence in so many ways on your trip -- your lovely trip. I have been a reader for a long time, and wanted to tell you how you and Katie both inspired me. My little son (4 years old) wanted to run in a race -- and, with thoughts of you and your sweet girl, I chose to register him for a race where the money went toward funding research for pediatric cancer (specifically brain tumors, from which Katie did not suffer, of course, but I had a strong desire to abet pediatric cancer in some form). And your words, over the years, about your whole family's experience of being at Ronald McDonald House and how much it meant to you moved me to look into volunteering at our local Ronald McDonald House here in Chicago. So in two weeks, my son and I will be part of a team preparing dinner for the families there, and I intend to make this a regular part of our lives. This isn't to toot my own horn -- this is all about you and Katie, and what you both inspired. Your beautiful heart and Katie's spirit are such a force for good, such bright lights, in myriad ways. Thank you for your words, your truth-telling, your gentleness and compassion. Deep peace and many blessings to you.

Karen Gerstenberger said...

Thank you for your comments, Elizabeth, Suz and Kay - and for thinking of Katie and of us. Thank you for continuing to read here, when my writing has been spotty. I miss this community when I am away from it!

JoanLVH, my deep compassion to you on the anniversary you are facing. Those days can be HARD. Thank you for writing here.

Jennifer, you have warmed my heart with your words. I hope that your son's race was a great experience for him, as well as your time with the families at Ronald McDonald House. That is a refuge and a haven, and people like you help to make it so.

Karen said...

What a wonderful time for you all. It is so special to have David along, too. It's sometimes hard to get those young adults to come along. I love your spirit of adventure taking the boat plane. It would be hard for me to be that daring. Bravo. The aches and pains do not rule!