chapter one, page one

I have this habit on early mornings before work, looking out my bedroom window at the sunrise. Being a city girl, the view is often interrupted rudely by power lines, other rooftops, and street signs, but that’s also the loveliness of it. The colors are still there. The clouds are blissfully ignorant and in my eyes all I see are the silhouettes and all I feel is the calm of the morning. The tip of my nose is chilly and my feet are unabashedly bare but right now it feels like there is something in the air that will keep me going until the spring returns.

One year ago tonight I lost my father and my life changed course. Today I started a new job and the historical education often touched on the agency that he worked for, the projects he visited, the land he loved. He found beauty in the quiet of the other side of the state. I remember wandering around the Crooked River area, picking up a rock to see a scorpion scurry away. I remember him changing a flat tire in the middle of a dusty road during a trip to Malheur and Harney Lakes. I remember camping trips as a little girl, just me and him, before life uprooted.

My dad enjoyed the silence of morning as well. Walking on the beach, looking for agates. He used to have great big jars of agates. When he died I slept in his room and in the morning, I went to his closet and found the glass float he’d spotted on the coast years earlier. It’s safe with me now. He didn’t need a lot to make him happy, when he was happy. Does that make sense? For someone riddled with depression and anxiety most of the thirty five years I knew him, those rare treasures I had before he left Oregon are close to my heart.

Two nights ago I felt his spirit watching me as I slept, for the first time since he passed. I asked him out loud to please leave, that I was okay. It felt like a dark shadow in the room. I am going to take those small moments, those thoughts of quiet, that booming voice that made my ears red after each call, and those rare conversations that were about life rather than death, and let myself sink into it tonight. The pain visits me less frequently than it did, and I have learned that when it appears, if I turn the water on hot, let my body shake, let my eyes close, and allow the water and the grief to wash over me until it has run its course. Doing those little things for myself – enjoying the silence in the mornings, snuggling up with my girl on the sofa, sharing conversations with close friends in dark places with a good cocktail, writing until the ink runs out, kneading dough and getting flour everywhere, or splurging on a hot stone massage – it’s what keeps me whole, keeps me evolving, and loving the earth that has given me so much.

“even the smallest stone glistens with tears, yes, but also from the light of being seen, and loved for simply being there” – alice walker