17 June 2008

Getting over the Great Wall

Somewhere back in my childhood I was imprinted with the quality of light at dusk driving on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). I can't recall if it is a true memory or an image and feeling I have created when the need of filling the empty space with tangible goods arises. Sometimes when I'm back in Utah and the sun is going down and the reflections and glow in the evensong is just right Darren will say, "What does this remind you of?" I answer, "Driving down the PCH just after the sun sets". Last night I walked along the PCH at this magical hour and down to the beach cottages at Crystal Cove. I sat at the picnic tables and listened to the ocean. My mind keeps wandering to an unanswerable question -- what is my family without my mother? That seems to be the barrier, the wall I can't quite conquer at the moment.

Friends keep providing ladders and boosts along the way. My very, very best Montana friend has kept me right side up countless times along the journey. We were born on the same day, she in New York City and I in Los Angeles, and we met somewhere near the middle in the wide open west. My friend Leslie in Idaho always knows what words to write to soothe me... our common ground is Terry Tempest Williams and a fierce feminism and relentlessly questioning minds. There are my high school buddies that are always there - together we could probably top anyone's checklist of traumatic events that have shaped our lives. There are too many to name in an open forum such as this, our connections and personal experiences too deep to share on a website that contains blogspot in its url.

I just thought I'd post pictures I'd just received from Jenny, my cheeky BYU gymnastics teammate and roommate who when we get together (every 10 years or so) it is incredibly easy and seems as if we have seen each other every day since our laughs and cries in college. I first met Jenny in Australia on a gymnastics tour. She then was recruited to BYU and I have always thought she was wonderful... a bit of down under attitude comes with her. Her family just traveled to China and Thailand, she's cool like that - always up for an adventure, and will be coming to see us again at Christmas time. Hmmmm, friends are the PCH at dusk.

Jenny, Angus, Amy and Ella on the Great Wall

Jenny on the beach in Thailand


Lisa McKendrick said...

Dear DeAnn,
I've had your Christmas card pinned to my bulletin board since it arrived in the mail, and just now I'm getting around to writing you. Sorry that I'm such a slacker friend. I should have done so much sooner.

I am so sorry to hear that your mom has passed away. The wall you speak of is real, and sometimes, just when you think you're near the top, another row of bricks gets added to it. It takes time to climb that wall, at least it has for me.

The first few days after my dad died, it was physically impossible for me to stop crying. I cried when I drove, I cried when I changed Sam's diaper. Tears were the one constant, until my mom revealed to us my father's hidden secrets. Almost instantly the tears stopped.

With or without tears, I still had a grieving process to pass through, and that, for me, was one slippery wall. And sadly, it has only been until recently that I've been able to focus on the good that he gave me, and forgive him of the rest. Rich has a father who is similar in many ways to mine, and this past father's day, Rich spoke about his dad in sacrament meeting.

It was an interesting talk, and for me it was helpful. He spoke of wrong notes, and that we as listeners hone into them when we hear someone playing an instrument. Our thought isn't, "Wow, they played so many right notes," but rather, "Did you hear that wrong note?" He likened that to the way we think of our fathers, that sometimes we focus on the wrong notes in their lives, rather than giving them credit for the many right notes they were able to play.

His talk helped me to realize that though I had crested that wall many years ago, I needed to remember my dad with greater kindness. I needed to tell my children about the wonderful, gregarious man who used to call me his doodle bug. I needed to leave judgement alone, and dwell on the positive.

I send you my love and know that you'll climb that wall, and do with more grace and grit than I did.

With love,

Kelly's address:
P.O. box 737
Spearman, TX 79081


anndeo said...

Thanks so much for your comment. I still remember when your dad died. Unexpected death is so traumatic and so many things go through your head. Your thoughts about 'wrong notes' were helpful. Sometimes I really feel certain people are brought together as friends because of their experiences in life and they can 'relate'. How is the writing coming? Any more stories in the Clandestine series? Take Care, DeAnn

Lisa McKendrick said...

I'm knew to blogging, so I hope it's all right that I leave another comment, commenting on your comment. I'm a fan of protocol, but I'm seldom up to speed. Anyway, I hope to get the chance to write another Clan Destine. We'll see if the publisher gives me the green light.

I'm working right now on the third Whimsy book. Cedar Fort has republished the first one, and it's out this month. I'm glad they stuck with the original title to help avoid confusion. The cover is new. Rich likes it; I think I like it. I wanted a chance to finish the story so I'm glad for the chance.

Scarlett broke her leg today, and I'm still recovering from all the trauma. She was in so much pain, and it was my first experience with comforting a child with a broken bone (I take that back, Julia kicked Caroline and broke her toe) and it was terrible. There was no position that eased her pain until they got the splint on.

When I got home I opened my caffeine-free Diet Coke and drank it down like a stiff martini. Somehow it helped.

Take care,

anndeo said...

I'm so stoked you are finishing off the Whimsy series. The second one was my very favorite because there was so much of our freshman year in that book - in a not too literal sense. Of course I love them all. I'm sorry Scarlett has a broken limb. Land wrote a great poem when he broke his leg it's called "I'm Stuck". It won an award and is published in a book. Thank you for all your kindness and good words. I have amazing friends.
Melanie is in Orlando right now with the whole fam. We need to get there and visit you.