Today about two dozen friends and I held a 2nd memorial celebration of L’s life–it was fitting that it came on his birthday. He had asked me to be sure and do something here in Florida for those friends who could not come to Wisconsin last May. What a wonderful event it turned out to be. There is a long bridge from mainland Sarasota over to the barrier islands. Every year he was here L took great pride in riding his bike up and over that bridge and back again. The last year he was down here toward the end of the season he came back one day and said, “I made it to the top of the bridge today.” I knew that was the last time he would manage that and sure enough that was the day he stopped riding his bike. So the friends and I walked to the top of the bridge–a long gradual climb and there we had a moment of silence, then dropped orchid and rose petals. Because of the strong wind they petals flew through the air and way out onto the water as they landed. One person said looking down at the water so far below that they looked like a cluster of butterflies and it was true. It was SO beautiful. Afterwards we had lunch at L’s favorite pizza place. I had given the chef there L’s recipe for salmon patties (one of his standard meals when he cooked) and the chef took the recipe and made up appetizer sized patties for us to enjoy. I had also ordered L’s favorite frozen custard sent from Wisconsin for dessert. It was a day of surprises and stories and laughter–a bittersweet day to be sure–but as always with L the emphasis was on the “sweet.”
A Zen Proverb…
and the grass grows by itself.
It all started about five weeks ago when I went to look at a condo here in Sarasota in a wonderful old 1920’s building that I have admired since I started coming down here. I had been playing around (procrastinating really) looking at various condo offerings because I thought my sister was planning a move and this one came up–totally wrong for her but I couldn’t get it off my mind. I had no intention of ever buying a second home anywhere–L and I both always thought that what I would do once he died was travel since we had been unable to do that these last several years. But I discovered over the last several months that travel is nice but it’s not all that key to my happiness.
I finally (after actually bookmarking the site so I could look at the pictures daily) told myself that I should go see it. I rationalized that the online pictures always make a place look better than it really is and that by going to see it I would be able to get it off my mind. SO WRONG!! What happened next was very stunning, spiritual and the beginning of an adventure I would never have guessed would be possible.
I walked into the place (which had several humongous downsides like no elevator!!) and for the first time since L died I felt such a sense of peace and calm and happiness. Happiness was a feeling I almost couldn’t recognize because I had been sad and unhappy for so long but whatever I called it, I felt GOOD! Long story a little shorter I actually began the process of investigating, made an offer, and ultimately lost the opportunity to live there to another buyer.
But the story does not end there–I now felt so strongly that this was something I was supposed to do that I visited an open house here in the complex where I rent. While this place does not come close to the wonderful character and history of the first place, it has several features (like an elevator and outside space) that the other place did not. On top of that it feels right. I realized that for me a place of my own has always been a key to my inner peace and happiness. I love my landlords and feel so at home in their place and through the years they have given me lots of freedom to make the place as much mine as it is theirs–they even refer to it as “our” place. But the drive to settle into a “home” here as I have a “home” in Wisconsin was overpowering.
On Monday I made an offer.
On Tuesday the sellers countered and I countered back with my absolute bottom line offer.
On Wed. they turned that down–the deal was dead.
I was devastated.I knew the search was over at least for this season because I have much to accomplish between now and my return to Wisconsin in March. I could not understand why after all the weeks of the roller coaster of the adventure, why was it in the end going to come to nothing? I had a good cry and, yes, I will admit that I kept asking L why he had allowed me to get my hopes up not once but twice.
On Valentine’s morning I took a long walk on the beach, talking to myself about the importance of letting this go and focusing on the realities of what I need to get done over the next few weeks–taxes, a book that’s due; revisions on other books; etc. I went to breakfast with friends–by the way only 3 other people knew anything about this so no one had a clue. I came home and started to work. That moment of peace and happiness seemed very much an illusion but I reminded myself that many many people out there would LOVE to have my “problems” and went back to work.
My phone rang around noon and it was the broker telling me the sellers had reconsidered and would like to accept my final offer…it was Valentine’s Day and the feeling of breathing out and filling up with joy was back enhanced by an enormous sense of pure love surrounding me. I knew that I had made the right decision and I know that this is a huge step toward defining the life I must live now that he’s gone. I am so very blessed